Griffin’s late free throws carries Poplarville past D’Iberville 46-44

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In the recent stretch of games, the Poplarville boys basketball team won four out of five contests by an average margin of 3.75 points, including a 46-44 victory over D’Iberville on Saturday.

The game was tied 44-44 with less than 10 seconds to go when Hornets Tyler Griffin was sent to the free throw line with a chance to seal another home victory. After sinking the first free throw to give the Hornets a one-point lead, Griffin effortlessly sank the second shot, giving Poplarville the cushion Head Coach Chareck Cable wanted.

“We have played consistent defense throughout the whole season; it’s the offense that we need to work on in order to take our game to the next level,” Cable said.

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With the clock winding down, D’Iberville found an open, yet difficult shot that bounced off the rim, Cable said.

From the tip-off, Griffin was playing more assertively and energetic on the court, Cable said, which jumpstarted his team to a great start, ending the half with a 27-22 lead.

“We probably had the best first half we have played all season against D’Iberville,” he said. “If we can start out every game with that type of tenacity, it makes it very difficult to guard us.”

Cable stressed to his team the importance of understanding what it takes to win consistently, as the district tournament is right around the corner. What can escalate the Hornets up the bracket during tournament time, Cable said, is focusing on defensive turnovers.

“We need to get stops, transition our defense to the other end and capitalize on our opportunities,” he said.

Cable said he wants to find ways to get more separation in the second half.

“If we can get multiple people going on offense, it completely opens up the court for us. Tonight we did that, but we let them stick around in the second half because we still couldn’t take advantage of defensive stops,” Cable said.

Along with a pair of game-winning free throws, Griffin ended the night with 13 points. Tamiljah Merrill stroked 15 points and Cannan Ray notched 12, including two 3-pointers in the final minutes, which roped Poplarville in the game.

Poplarville (10-8; 2-2) hosts Sumrall (4-12; 0-4) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Smith rallies the Lady Hornets to overcome D’Iberville 51-47

In the first quarter, four out of the five Lady Hornets starters fell into foul trouble, forcing the team to change its game plan early on against D’Iberville (5-13; 1-2).

However, with the help of a couple pep-talks from Poplarville’s Mallory Smith, the team was able to keep it to a close game in the first half without their lead girls and didn’t give up the lead after the third quarter, finishing the game 51-47.

“Mallory is a born leader on and off the court,” Head Coach Dee Robinson said. “She helped the team make up their minds that they were not going to lose and they really got after it after her pep-talk at halftime.”

Poplarville’s best defender, Elizabeth Hughes, was in charge of guarding D’Iberville’s leading scorer Casey Ferguson throughout Saturday’s contest, and limited her to score 11 points, which is below her season average, Robinson said.

With banter exchanged between the two, the turning point of the game, Robinson said, was when Hughes forced a charge against Ferguson late in the third quarter, dampening the Lady Warriors’ energy and giving the Lady Hornets an edge to finish the game strong.

Lady Hornets Zanaisha Turner had a game-high of 14 points, Smith scored 11 and Jasmine Merrill finished with 9.

Poplarville (12-5; 3-0) will host Sumrall (5-9; 2-2) Tuesday night at 6 p.m.