Knight shoots lights out with buzzer-beater to claim first place in district against Hattiesburg

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2017

Clay Knight, 22, sinks the game-winning 3-pointer as time expires during the Maroon Tide’s matchup against the Tigers Tuesday night. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Clay Knight, 22, sinks the game-winning 3-pointer as time expires during the Maroon Tide’s matchup against the Tigers Tuesday night.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

Down by two with 4.1 seconds left, Maroon Tide’s V.J. Holt broke the Tigers’ press, ran the length of the court and dished the ball to an open Clay Knight waiting in the corner. As time expired, the Kelly Wise Gym went silent as Knight released an arching 3-pointer that splashed the Tide over Hattiesburg, 48-47.

“Man, when the ball left my hands, I was thinking to myself, ‘just go in,’” Knight said. “I have all the confidence in the world in the team and now we got to keep pushing more than ever.”

Tuesday’s win over Hattiesburg puts Picayune in the driver’s seat in the 7-5A District, which is exactly where Head Coach Kelton Thompson wants to be.

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“We’ve controlled our own destiny all year and now it’s time to take our game to another level,” he said.

To begin the game, Picayune’s Ahmad Lathan said he was focused and determined to make up for the team’s loss to Hattiesburg earlier in the season, sinking three of Picayune’s four 3-pointers in the first quarter to make for an early 14-10 lead. The Maroon Tide made seven 3-pointers in the first half against the Tigers, setting up a 28-21 lead going into halftime.

Picayune carried over a surge of energy to start the second half that propelled the team on an 8-0 run. However, after trailing by 10 as the third quarter came to a close, Tigers’ Alex Harris single-handedly brought his team back, scoring 11 of his 22 points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. With four minutes remaining, Harris connected on a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to create a one-point game, 40-39.

On the Tigers’ subsequent possession, Harris was fouled and sent to the line, which he made one out of two, equalizing the score with 2:52 to go.

After a couple of trips to the foul line by both teams, the score read 47-45 with 39.1 seconds remaining as Tigers’ Jaylen Daniels stepped to the free throw line, missing both attempts. However, Hattiesburg’s Tyrandy Tillman nabbed the last missed attempt and called timeout before Picayune could gain possession.

In an attempt to wind down the clock from 30.8 seconds, the Tigers’ began to pass around the perimeter, but failed to connect on a pass that flew out of bounds, giving Picayune the ball with 28 seconds remaining. A Tide turnover began to push a chance at victory further away, until Picayune regained possession with 4.1 seconds to go. After Knight nailed the 3-pointer from the wing, the court was flooded with happy fans and students.

Stephane Ayangma quietly notched 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Maroon Tide. Lathan finished with nine points.

Picayune will host its final district game against a Stone County team that is still in the running to take the crown away from the Maroon Tide. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Lady Tide struggle against Tigers’ press, lose 45-27

All game long, Hattiesburg perfected a full-court press that gave the Lady Tide problems in the first half, limiting the team to nine points and zero made field goals in the second quarter.

“We knew what to expect, we just couldn’t execute,” Picayune Head Coach Toby Bush said.

Lady Tide’s Camille Culpepper displayed a dominant outing on the boards for a second consecutive game, collecting 17 rebounds to give her team a number of second opportunities.

“I know that if I rebound well, it could get us ahead,” Culpepper said.

“She is a great player, and has the skillset to become one of the best players in the state,” Bush said. “She is saving us on offense and is a great weapon to have.”

Culpepper ended the game with six points. Shamiah Bridges finished the night leading Picayune with 10 points. Lady Tigers’ Terralyn Ulmer scored 12 points. Melyia Grayson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Picayune will host Stone County on Friday at 6 p.m.