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Season ends for Lady Tide

By CURTIS ROCKWELL

Item Sports Editor

VANCLEAVE — Picayune’s return trip to the girls state basketball playoffs was a short one, but the Lady Tide didn’t depart before throwing a scare into homestanding Vancleave.

The Lady Bulldogs used a big size advantage inside the paint to dispatch the visiting Lady Tide, taking a 46-35 win in the opening round of the Class 5A South State playoffs.

Vancleave moves onto the South State tourney with a 21-8 record, while Picayune’s season comes to an end at 16-11. It was the Lady Tide’s first trip to the playoffs in four years.

“I thought our effort was tremendous, because that team beat us by 30 points earlier this year,” Picayune first year head coach Jason Kennedy said. “We could have executed better, and their size was a problem for us. We had a good year, and I’m proud of the girls but we sure would have liked to have won this one.”

Vancleave’s twin towers of Carrie Inabinette and Presley Owens combined for 25 points and 32 rebounds, and helped the Lady Bulldogs control the boards and the lane.

In fact, to try and offset the height disadvantage, the Lady Tide held the ball for over seven minutes in the first quarter with Vancleave in a zone defense. The stall worked to perfection as Picayune’s Melody McGill hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the opening frame to put the Lady Tide up 3-2 entering the second stanza.

“We wanted them to come out and play man-to-man, and not let those big girls close down inside in that zone,” Kennedy said.

Vancleave, though, went on a 12-3 run over the first four minutes of the second quarter, taking a 14-5 lead they would never relinquish.

The Lady Tide trailed 18-12 at halftime, and damaged their cause by making just one of eight free throws in the first two frames.

“We kind of shout ourselves in the foot with the free throws,” Kennedy said.

The Lady Tide remained scrappy and stayed in the game throughout the second half, cutting the deficit to four several times in the fourth period.

But each time, Vancleave would turn to Inabinnette or Owens, and one of the two would convert a basket inside off either an entry pass or off an offensive rebound.

Inabinette, who led VHS with a game high 16 points, and Gabby Scott each hit back to back baskets on two different occasions when Picayune had cut the deficit to just four.

Owens added nine and Scott eight for the winning team.

Tee Myers paced Picayune with 14 points. Andrea Jackson and Ashanti Wright each added six points apiece.

The game was the final one for Lady Tide seniors Andrea Jackson, Sharonda Jackson, Lauren Jones and Arrianna McGill. The Lady Tide also were forced to play most of the season with Arianna McGill, who was a starter before injuring her knee earlier in the season.