PRC shapes impressive win over Aggies, 57-43

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Louis Reece takes on two Aggie defenders in the Blue Devils victory Friday night. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Louis Reece takes on two Aggie defenders in the Blue Devils victory Friday night.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

CARRIERE — The Blue Devils quickly pulled away from Forrest County Agricultural in the first quarter, limiting the Aggies to only one field goal and four points. Pearl River Central’s A.J. Banks had a huge third quarter, which led his team to a 57-43 victory in the Blue Devils’ last game of the regular season.

“It was a great performance by the team, and it sets us up nicely going into the district tournament,” PRC Head Coach Scott Stevens said.

In the first quarter, the Aggies got into a bind, committing numerous fouls in the opening minutes Friday night. And as FCAHS took its time adjusting defensive tactics to guard the likes of Banks and Willie Reece, the home team quickly took advantage of the Aggies’ defensive lapses, rallying behind Banks and Reece, who connected for all of the Blue Devils’ 15 points in the second quarter. During this binge, Reece racked in three assists on consecutive possessions to Banks, resulting in a pair of 3-pointers and a mid-range jumper that gave PRC the lead at halftime 27-11.

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“[Banks and Reece] are beginning to come into their own. They have a great chemistry between each other and the rest of the team,” Stevens said. “They have been helping us down the stretch. It’s exciting to see them both playing well during this time of the year.”

Banks had a game-high 23 points, including 15 points from 3-point territory. Reece helped kick-start the Blue Devils with 11 points in the first half, and 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists total.

In light of the team’s effective defensive performance, and the decent spread of shots, Stevens said he likes how his team is executing.

“This was a great win for us. It is a lot better going into any tournament off of a win, but we got a lot to focus on this weekend to prepare for Tuesday,” he said.

PRC will face its rival Picayune for the third time this year. In the previous two bouts, Picayune has defeated PRC, limiting the Blue Devils to scoring an average 31.5 points while the Maroon Tide recorded 66 points in the first meeting, following 53 in the second.

The 7-5A District Tournament will be held in Carriere, and at 5 p.m., the No. 4 Blue Devils will square off against the No. 1 Maroon Tide for a spot in the district championship game on Friday.

Slow third quarter cripples Lady Devils

Harlee Davis hits one of her four field goals in the first quarter against the Lady Aggies. Photo by Taylor Welsh

Harlee Davis hits one of her four field goals in the first quarter against the Lady Aggies.
Photo by Taylor Welsh

After giving up a 7-1 lead in the first two minutes of action Friday night, the Lady Devils rallied back into the game. But after giving up 26 points in the second half, the Lady Aggies soared to a 43-39 victory to close out the regular season.

For PRC, this game was filled with resiliency and camaraderie from its senior class, which is something Head Coach Anthony LaBella said he takes pride in. However, after senior captain Kayla Ryan suffered an ACL tear earlier in the season, the team had to take on a new identity that features the leadership of underclassmen.

Sophomore guard Harlee Davis undertook this role to begin Friday’s contest, starting with eight points in the first quarter, transforming a six-point deficit to a four-point lead after connecting on a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer as the time expired.

Throughout the game, the Lady Devils had trouble defending the post, as the majority of the Lady Aggies points came from inside the paint.

As the Lady Devils moved into the final quarter with a shortfall of three points, it was another sophomore, Samantha Orgeron, who gave PRC another jolt of energy, scoring the first eight points of the final quarter. However, the Lady Aggies continued to find gaps in the Lady Devils’ defense, scoring 14 points on its way to a 43-39 victory.

Orgeron scored 10 points while teammate Davis finished with 17 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists.

PRC will host Hattiesburg at 4 p.m. on Tuesday in the first round of the 7-5A District Tournament.

On the other side of the bracket, Picayune will face Stone at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Carriere.