Tide have chance for payback

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 24, 2017

The tension between district rivals Picayune and Pearl River Central were almighty, with a gym so full that you could literally feel the heat coming from the stands. Now, the buzz surrounds a Picayune game, this time against Provine this Saturday.

Let’s take a trip back to 2002 when Picayune Head Coach Dean Shaw took the Maroon Tide through a historic 36-2 season to the state championship game for the first time since 1969. The year after that, Picayune made it back to the semifinals of the state tournament, and who did they play?

None other than the Provine Rams.

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In that game, Provine came out victorious. However, the last time Provine was in Picayune, it didn’t end well for the Rams. Picayune defeated Provine on its route to Jackson in Shaw’s first year, 1985.

Provine is known as one of the powerhouses of basketball in Mississippi, with six state championship titles.

Yet, Picayune is having another remarkable season, with Head Coach Kelton Thompson leading the team to a 22-7 season as district champions. What’s even more noticeable is that the Maroon Tide is currently 10-0 when playing on home court, the venue for Saturday’s scrum against Provine. The Rams are 4-4 in away games this season.

Provine etched a 12-13 record this season, but don’t be fooled.

The Rams have been through a challenging season, playing seven of the top ten teams in the state, including a one-point loss to Tupelo, the No. 5 ranked team in the state with a 20-2 record. In those top ten games, Provine only came out victorious once in a 93-90 win over No. 8 Callaway.

The Rams have an impeccable basketball tradition that most recently has led to state championships in 2007 and 2008, according the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

To get where they are now, Provine made a 73-58 quantum leap past Pascagoula, the team that handed Picayune its most recent loss on Jan. 28, beating the Tide 51-44.

After that loss, the Maroon Tide stormed through its competition, beating opponents by an average of 17.5 points leading up to Saturday.