Region 6-5A tourney starts today

Published 4:06 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

At one point, Picayune won six straight South State boys titles.

But not one player on the current Maroon Tide team team has played in a state playoff game,as Picayune has missed the playoffs the past two years.

Today, Picayune hopes to snap that streak.

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The Maroon Tide takes on Stone County in the opening round of the Region 6-5A Tournament here at Wayne County High School. The Lady Tide and Stone girls kick action off at 4 p.m., with the Maroon Tide and Tomcats to follow at 5:30.

“I think the guys are excited to play,” Picayune boys head coach Jason Kennedy said. “It’s the same situation it was last year, and I don’t think they want to go through that again.”

Kennedy was referring to last season, when Picayune swept  two games from Stone in the regular season only to see the Tomcats knock off the Maroon Tide in the first round of the tourney to earn the playoff berth.

“I watched them play last year and I told them yesterday that to me they didn’t play with any fire or intensity, they had no sense of urgency,” Kennedy, who was the head coach of the Lady Tide last year, said. “I hate to say that that loss was a good thing, but maybe it will be a little more motivation for us.”

That loss marked the second straight year Picayune was upset in the opening round of the league tournament. Two seasons ago, the Maroon Tide, seeded third, fell to sixth seeded Poplarville in the first round.

Kennedy will look to the trio of Marcus Rawls, Derrione Stewart and Courtney Nixon to guide the Maroon Tide back to the playoffs. Rawls has been a machine for the Tide this season, averaging almost 17 points and right at 16 rebounds per game. Stewart, Rawls’ partner in the post, is  scoring 15 points per game and grabbing about 11 rebounds per game as well. Nixon is Picayune’s outside specialist, leading the team in 3-pointers and averaging about 14 points per game.

The two Picayune-Stone games will be followed by a pair of games in which the homestanding WCHS teams take on Pearl River Central.

The teams met Friday in Carriere to end the regular season, with WCHS winning both.