Coach swap of rival schools might make this season special
Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2016
During the offseason, two rival high schools, Picayune and Pearl River Central, exchanged basketball head coaches, setting the stage for an intense rivalry this season.
“It’s going to be an emotional battle more than anything. Anytime these teams play against each other in any sport it’s going to be that way. This game will definitely have some spice to it, but my job is to make sure the kids treat the game like any other and come out with a win,” PRC Basketball Head Coach Scott Stephens said.
Picayune Memorial High School Basketball Head Coach Kelton Thompson has a similar approach to the rivalry.
“I want our season to be more than just beating our rival. The team’s mindset should be the same as mine and that’s to forget about the extra-circulars and focus on what we can control without letting emotions get in the way,” Thompson said.
Both coaches know the impact of the game and what it means to their community.
“Step number one is to be the best team in any match up we have. I know it’s a big game for the fans and I just want to give them another district win. If we are to be thinking long term, this game is part of that process,” Thompson said.
Thompson also said he wants his team to share his mindset of practicing every day as though they have something to prove.
Stephens’ perspective of the game might be more subtle than the fans’, but in his opinion, it’s more sound.
“There are advantages and disadvantages in the game for both teams. On one side, we as coaches know the players pretty well but on the other side, they know us and our tactics,” Stephens said. “We both know what to expect when we get on the floor together. No one has an advantage over the other. At the end of the day we are just going to focus on it as if it’s just another district game.”
The two coaches might have different coaching styles, but they are very similar.
“The biggest game of our season is always going to be the next one. As long as we have that mentality we will see success,” Thompson said.
Last season, the two teams met in the District 7-5A Tournament in which the Maroon Tide beat the Blue Devils 47-33.