Picayune holds off Long Beach 54-39 for fourth consecutive win

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2016

For the past three games, the Picayune Memorial High School boy’s basketball team has held their opponents to scoring 33, 34 and 36 points. On Friday, that defensive trend continued when the Tide (9-4) defeated Long Beach (5-5) 54-39.

“We are starting to gain confidence in our ability to guard people every night,” Picayune Head Basketball Coach Kelton Thompson said. “It gives us an opportunity to be in every single game we play.”

Picayune’s Stephane Ayangma controlled the paint against the Bearcats with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as the Tide out-rebounded Long Beach, 31-16.

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However, it was the Tide’s defense that put this win away early, allowing only 18 points scored against them in the first three quarters.

“We are starting to figure a few things out defensively. We’re starting to breakdown less and get more quality stops, which will be huge down the stretch,” Thompson said.

Picayune’s Gary Travis pushed the Tide to an early start and finished the game with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Tide guard Marvun Arnold had an active night with seven points, six rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

After Long Beach fell behind 27-14 at the half, it was an uphill battle for the Bearcats to catch up. Even after scoring 21 points in the final quarter, Picayune nearly matched it with 20 points of their own, increasing its winning streak to four games.

However, Thompson said the team needs to remain focused to keep the winning streak alive.

“The Christmas break is critical for us. The holidays can be a great opportunity to make progress. If it’s not managed right, the time out of school and out of the normal routine can hurt a team. We have to be committed and disciplined enough to make sure we use this stretch to get better,” Thompson said.

Picayune will play Natchez at South Pike High School on Wednesday in preparation for the Picayune Christmas Tournament on Dec. 29-30.