Picayune opens district play with a loss against Hattiesburg

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kelton Thompson stressed the importance of winning consecutive games to his team, referencing how it can be huge toward the end of the season in the district tournament. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Kelton Thompson stressed the importance of winning consecutive games to his team, referencing how it can be huge toward the end of the season in the district tournament.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

After taking the lead with less than two minutes left, Picayune committed two costly turnovers that led to Hattiesburg pulling away, 44-41 Tuesday night. Picayune has been in top form lately, mounting a seven-game winning streak that began on Dec. 6.

However, after Tuesday’s loss to Hattiesburg, Head Coach Kelton Thompson drew many positives out of the game.

“We knew this was going to be an emotional and mentally tough game. These teams have a lot of history recently, but we always treat every game with the utmost importance, no matter who the opponent is,” Thompson said.

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Last season, Picayune met Hattiesburg in the Division Tournament Championship game, which did not end well for the Maroon Tide; the team lost 88-46. Coming into Tuesday’s game at Hattiesburg, Thompson’s biggest worry was the mentality of his team, which showed early on.

The Maroon Tide boy’s got off to an uncharacteristic start in the team’s first district game of the year when the star player Stephane Ayangma committed two fouls in the first minute of action.

“We were timid at the beginning of the game, which really put us in a bind early on. Eventually, we began gaining confidence that we could play with this team and even beat them, but tonight was not our night,” Thompson said.

In the last minutes of the game, momentum and lead changes seesawed between the Tide and Tigers until an offensive foul was called on Picayune, giving the Tigers two successful free throw shots. During the subsequent possession, the Tide turned the ball over again and ran out of time to mount a comeback to keep the winning streak alive.

“[The streak] gives us confidence that we can win multiple games in a row. The great thing about basketball is that the district champion is decided through a tournament, so if anything, that streak gave us a glimpse as to how hard we have to work to make it to the top,” Thompson said.

Ayangma led Picayune with 16 points while playing only two quarters due to fouls. Ahmad Lathan added nine points for the Tide.

On Friday, Picayune will host Pearl River Central in the rivals’ first meeting of the season. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

Hattiesburg girl’s had a monster second half against Picayune, winning 58-39

After being down by four points at halftime, the Lady Tide (4-9, 0-1) came out of the locker room with a different defensive approach in an attempt to stop Hattiesburg’s 6-foot-3 freshman center Meliya Grayson. However, Hattiesburg (5-11, 1-0) was able to go on an 11-2 run, which sealed the win for the Tigers. Grayson ended the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“We wanted to kick-start the defense coming out of halftime and get them into more traps, but that led to an early run for Hattiesburg,” Picayune Head Coach Toby Bush said.

However, by the time the Lady Tide switched back to its original defensive strategy, the damage had already been done.

Kenedi Walker hit three out of four 3-point attempts and led the Tigers, along with Grayson, with 14 points.

Bush said he came into Tuesday’s game with the goal of containing Hattiesburg’s two leading scorers, Chelsea Ulmer and Terralyn Ulmer, at which Picayune succeed.

So far this season, the Ulmer sisters have a combined average of 25 points per game, but against Picayune, Chelsea Ulmer scored eight points and Terralyn Ulmer scored nine.

“We did a great job of handling their best players, but we got fatigued in the second half and started playing catch-up, which led to our downfall,” Bush said.

With only two returning players on the varsity court, the Picayune Lady Tide have little experience, but Bush said he expects “the light bulb to flicker” for his young group of girls.

“If we can produce for four quarters, instead of two, we will be a special team and I have confidence that we could match up against anyone in the state,” he said.

Picayune’s Alanna Smith took the helm with 15 points. Tide’s junior shooting guard Miracle Banks scored nine points along with Camille Culpepper who scored eight points.

Picayune hosts rival Pearl River Central on Friday at 6 p.m.