Ayangma sparks Picayune in riveting 45-41 win
Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2017
CARRIERE — Everything seemed to be going the Blue Devils’ way to start the first round of the 7-5A District Tournament against Picayune. The team jumped to an early 5-0 lead, and forced the Tide’s go-to player, Stephane Ayangma, to commit his third foul in the beginning seconds of the second quarter. However, Picayune began to gain separation as of late Tuesday night, defeating the Blue Devils 45-41.
During the regular season meetings between the two teams, Picayune dominated PRC, winning by an average of 28 points. However, when the two faced one another Tuesday night, it was the rivalry everyone expected.
“We have really matured throughout this season. It’s been a test to see where this program is headed, and I believe the players know what it takes to take their game to the next level,” PRC Head Coach Scott Stevens said.
Momentum was on the Blue Devils side to start the district tournament bout in its home gym against the Tide. PRC stumped Picayune initially with energetic play and a sparky defense that forced the Tide to shoot from long range. After Ayangma committed his third foul early in the second quarter, it seemed as if the only way the Tide would have a chance to win is if the bench could accelerate the team, which it did.
Right when PRC gained motivation, Picayune’s guard Delrae Smith scored a crucial 3-pointer from the top of the key to level out the score, 11-11, with 7:28 to go in the second quarter.
The teams then went back-and-forth for seven minutes as PRC leaped to a three-point lead with 39.3 seconds remaining in the half. However, another crucial shot came from Picayune’s bench, tying the score 21-21 as Vandell McGill nailed a contested 3-pointer as the half concluded.
The third quarter harbored the continual trend of clutch shots from Picayune’s Smith and PRC’s A.J. Banks in a toe-to-toe fight for the lead. But at crunch time, the Tide pulled away, mounting a 7-0 run to start the final quarter and leaning on V.J. Holt and Marvun Arnold to sink 4-6 free throws to stamp a spot in the district tournament championship game.
Maroon Tide’s Ayangma was a force to be reckoned with on the block throughout the entire game, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Holt scored seven points while teammate Smith notched two critical 3-pointers for six points.
Picayune will move on to play Hattiesburg in the 7-5A District Tournament championship game Friday at PRC’s gym at 8:30 p.m.