Lady Tide falls inches away from South Jones in state playoffs
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017
PICAYUNE — The Lady Tide lost to South Jones in the first round of the state tournament Monday night, after nearly completing a 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter. However, there was not enough time on the clock to close the gap as Picayune fell 52-46 to the Lady Braves.
Alanna Smith jump-started the Lady Tide with back-to-back 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the playoff bout. Unfortunately, Picayune went cold after that, tallying 14 points in the first two quarters combined, while conceding 27 to the Lady Braves, including a 16-3 landslide in the second quarter.
It all seemed to be over for the Lady Tide as the team entered the final quarter down by 17 points. But then, Picayune’s Head Coach Toby Bush challenged his team further, especially one player in particular.
“I pulled Alanna aside before the fourth quarter started and told her that I think she is the best scorer in the gym, but the other team’s coach thinks she has the best scorer. Prove her wrong,” Bush said.
Smith took the court and dominated the final quarter, bobbing and weaving in and out of the lane to score 14 points in the last six minutes of the contest while tallying two assists that brought Picayune to within six points from tying the game. However, Father Time ended the Lady Tide’s comeback after they put together a 23-point fourth quarter performance.
“They are extremely well-coached,” Bush said. “They did a lot of similar things Hattiesburg did against us previously, but we didn’t match the intensity we had against Hattiesburg tonight until the final quarter, which to me was the difference maker.”
With a young team, Bush said he remains optimistic about the future seasons for the Lady Tide. Even though, the team is losing only one senior, “That one pair of shoes is going to be hard to fill,” Bush said.
Celestial “C.J.” Contee is the lone senior currently playing for Picayune.
“C.J. is a one of a kind person that you will probably never have the privilege of coaching twice in a lifetime. She might be quiet on the court at times, but she is adored in the locker room. Everyone looked up to her and she was one of the best universal leaders I have coached,” Bush said.
Bush said that because of everything the young players have been through this season, maturing is not a concern during the offseason. Instead, he is focusing on other aspects to help the Lady Tide become state contenders next season.
“The offseason is where you get better as a team and the season is where you show it off,” Bush said.
During Monday’s game, Smith led Picayune with 22 points and two assists. Teammate Camille Culpepper showcased her athleticism on offense and defense, grabbing 14 rebounds while making two steals, a block and scoring seven points.
Lady Braves Jordan Clark notched 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Endia Holliday pitched in 12 points while fellow Lady Braves Keyara Hinton went 3-for-3 from the field, tallying nine points, two rebounds and three assists.