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Picayune holiday basketball tournament underway

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: The hounding defense of the Maroon Tide helped them earn their first home win of the season.  Photo by Dart Spiers

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: The hounding defense of the Maroon Tide helped them earn their first home win of the season.
Photo by Dart Spiers

Students are still on Christmas break, but basketball has not stopped. Three local teams are participating in a holiday tournament at Picayune Memorial High School.

The Picayune boys earned their home victory of the season Monday night by defeating Forrest County Agricultural High School in the first round of the tournament.

The game was fast-paced from the start. Picayune jumped out to a 7-0 lead early, forcing an early timeout from the Aggies.

FCAHS would cut the Picayune lead to two by the end of the first quarter behind the play of senior center Logan Pierce who was a presence in the paint all game long for the Aggies. The Tide adjusted well however, moving the ball efficiently to get clean looks at the basket. Senior forward Hakeem Magee hit a three-pointer to cap off an 8-0 Picayune scoring run just before halftime, giving the Tide a 23-15 lead at the break.

In the second half, Picayune pulled away, opening up a 14-point lead in the third quarter. The Tide showcased a balanced attack in which five different players scored baskets. The offense was sound, but it was the smothering defense that really sealed the game in favor of the Tide. 

Picayune Head Coach Scott Stephens had his team implement a full-court press defense, often trapping the Aggie players in their own backcourt and forcing turnovers.

By the fourth quarter, the Tide had a comfortable double-digit lead despite battling foul trouble all night. Both Magee and starting sophomore center Darrius Littles fouled out in the final quarter.

With both teams in the bonus, each team found themselves on the free throw line often in the last few minutes, and the Tide hit enough to maintain their lead and clinch their first home win of the season, 53-36.

“We’re growing up little by little,” said Stephens, “It’s just taking longer than we would like.” 

The Poplarville High Lady Hornets took on the West Harrison High Hurricanes in the early game and lost 49-13.

Poplarville struggled to score early as Hurricanes junior center Ameshya Williams dictated the paint on defense and found good looks on the offensive end. 

While the young Lady Hornets struggled, their effort remained high throughout the game, particularly on the defensive end, even out-scoring the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter. The effort and growth is something Head Coach Deatra Robinson-Caboe wants to see from her inexperienced team.

“West Harrison is a very good basketball team, and I’m just glad my young guards got to see how they play,” said Robinson-Caboe.

The Lady Hornets will face off against the Picayune girls squad on Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Picayune Memorial High School Gym.

The Picayune boys will play in the tournament championship game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.