Picayune basketball takes home early season trophy

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Picayune Memorial High School men's basketball team gains early momentum after winning the Hancock Thanksgiving Tournament.

Picayune Memorial High School men’s basketball team gains early momentum after winning the Hancock Thanksgiving Tournament.

In a competitive Hancock Thanksgiving Tournament involving some of the most talented teams in southern Mississippi and Louisiana, the Picayune Maroon Tide basketball team kick started the season by winning its first major tournament of the 2016-17 season.

“I was proud of the guys during the Thanksgiving break. Winning this tournament was huge for us,” Picayune Men’s Head Basketball Coach Kelton Thompson said. “This was just the first step for us.”

The Tide had to battle against a couple of widely known programs, including Salmen High School who is “year in and year out one of the most successful basketball teams in Louisiana,” Thompson said.

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During opening night against Salmen, the Tide found themselves with a tight eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. However, Salmen continued to fight and tied the game with a little over a minute left in regulation. After a couple of clutch free throws down the stretch, Picayune preserved a 43-41 win, which set the tone for the remainder of the tournament.

“To get a win over a high quality opponent like Salmen helps the kids realize what they can accomplish this year,” Thompson said.

Senior Stephane Ayangma led the Tide against Salmen with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

The next night, Picayune defeated Hancock 62-33, clinching the tournament championship and earning an early season victory. Again, it was Ayangma who led the Tide with a huge double-double—19 points and 16 rebounds. Rounding out double figure scoring for the tide was Clay Knight and Delrae Smith with 12 and 11 points. The Tide’s Marvin Arnold seemed to be all over the floor during the championship game, accumulating seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Ayangma and Arnold received All-Tournament Team honors.

“This was a great experience for the kids. I want them to get used to that feeling and for it to translate into everything we do on a day-to-day basis,” Thompson said.

So far, Picayune has played a difficult schedule this season against state championship programs such as Salmen, Wayne County, Pass Christian and Brandon high schools.

“Playing all those teams will serve us tremendously in the long run, but we still have a long way to go,” Thompson said.

Picayune (5-3) will travel to D’Iberville (3-4) on Dec. 2, before hosting Poplarville on Dec. 6.