Poplarville comes up short against Aggies, 43-41

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2017

It’s one thing to win a basketball game on the road, but it’s another to win one by a hair. In the team’s past two outings, Poplarville traveled to Purvis and Lumberton, walking away from both games with a combined margin of victory of eight points; 42-38 against Purvis and 45-42 against Lumberton.

On Jan. 17, the Hornets hopped on the bus for one of the last times this season to keep a winning streak alive against Forrest County Agricultural (4-8; 1-1).

However, due to empty offensive possessions and missed free throws down the stretch, the Hornets lost 43-41.

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“All season we have been working on turning our negative plays to positive plays, and we’ve done a great job at doing that lately, but it just wasn’t our night,” Poplarville Head Coach Chareck Cable said.

The Hornets only managed to flush one 3-pointer all game. Nevertheless, the team made up for the lack of perimeter shooting with a stout defensive effort, taking a six-point lead and limiting the Aggies to 13 points at halftime.

After the teams resurfaced onto the court for the second half, things began to get sour for the Hornets. Aggies senior center Cameron Garner stepped up in the second half, using his 6-foot-4 frame to clog the lane, making it difficult for the Hornets to finish around the rim. Also, junior point guard Adarrious Campbell performed a solo act in the fourth quarter, responding to every bucket the Hornets scored with one of his own.

“It seemed like every time we scored, he scored, which can put a damper on you mentally,” Cable said.

In the last two minutes, the teams traded buckets for ownership of the lead. With less than a minute left, Hornets Tyler Griffin missed a layup that would have given Poplarville a chance to run away with the game. Instead, the Aggies quickly transitioned the ball, scoring with less than 30 seconds to go.

“The game could have been different if we played more consistently in the first three quarters. It’s not just one or two plays that put you behind; it’s the game as a whole. We had empty possessions that, if we capitalized on, would have changed the outcome of the game,” Cable said.

Down by two points, with the clock ticking past 5 seconds, Hornets Tamiljah Merrill threw up a 3-pointer, getting fouled in the process, and sending him to the free throw line with a chance to take the lead.

After missing the first two free throws, Merrill attempted to bank the ball off the backboard to regain possession and tie up the game. But, because the ball never hit the rim, it was called as a violation by the referee.

Merrill finished with 17 points. Cannan Ray added 10 points for the Hornets and Griffin pitched in with seven points.

“This was a great game for us to learn, and that is exactly what we will take away from it,” Cable said. “There is no need to hang our heads because we still have a lot of basketball left to prove ourselves.”

Tuesday’s game marked the end of the Hornets’ tour of five consecutive away games. Now, with six games left in the season, Poplarville will go into the final stretch with five succeeding home games.

On Friday, Poplarville will host a hungry Purvis team, who lost during last week’s game against the Hornets. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.