PRC and Hattiesburg split series in district play

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 23, 2018

CARRIERE — In a key district matchup against Hattiesburg, the Blue Devils were able to earn a 59-55 victory against the Tigers at home Friday night.

AJ Banks led Pearl River Central High School by logging in 24 points, eight rebounds, four steals and one assist while Jason Long finished with 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal.

After four minutes of play in the fourth quarter, Hattiesburg outscored PRC 9-4 and held a 51-43 lead, setting the team up for another district victory, but the Blue Devils (13-5, 2-1 Region 7-5A) had other plans.

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Banks scored five points in back-to-back possessions to cut the Tigers’ lead to only three. After a defensive stop by PRC, Banks ran down court before scoring a 3-pointer to tie the game at 51 points with 2:55 left in the game.

Hattiesburg called a time out in an attempt to put more points on the board, but the Blue Devils continued its offensive rhythm with baskets from Ethan Henley and Jason Long, increasing PRC’s lead to 55-51 with just over a minute left in the game.

On the next play, the Tigers forced a turnover on an inbound pass and cut PRC’s lead 55-53. With only 30 seconds on the clock, Long added two more points to the scoreboard for PRC, despite being fouled. Hattiesburg drove down court on its next possession, but failed to score. As Banks came down with the rebound, he was quickly fouled. At the line, Banks successfully sunk two free throws to increase the team’s lead 59-53 with a couple of seconds remaining in the game. The Tigers attempt to run down court and score a two-point shot was too little too late.

“Hattiesburg is one heck of a ball team, they’re well coached, they’re athletic but it all goes back to our expectations. Our expectations are that we are going to battle in these games and we’re going to win them,” PRC Head boys basketball Coach Scott Stephens said. “Being 2-1 in the district is big but that’s not something that we can be satisfied with and we have to keep playing hard because we have a long season left. We’re going to enjoy this win tonight but we’re going to come back tomorrow and go back to work because we have a long way to go.”

Willie Reece added 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal for PRC and Henley finished with two points, one assist and three rebounds.

The Blue Devils will play its next district matchup against Picayune at Kelly Wise Gymnasium Friday night. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.

— Hattiesburg 50, Pearl River Central 41: In a game that was not decided until the final minutes of the game, the Lady Tigers defeated Pearl River Central High School’s girls basketball team 50-41 Friday night.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Hattiesburg held a 35-27 lead but after multiple fouls by the Lady Tigers, PRC headed to the foul line in an attempt to shorten Hattiesburg’s lead. At the free throw line, the Lady Devils struggled, going 3-for-7 in a span of two minutes, failing to cut the Lady Tigers’ lead.

Despite the team struggling from the free throw line, Madison Gower, Payton Lee and Lakyn Spence helped the Lady Devils go on a 6-1 run, trailing 38-36 with two minutes left in the game.

Towards the end of the game, PRC was unable to keep its offensive rhythm going and Hattiesburg outscored the Lady Devils 12-5, securing an on the road district victory.

Spence, Harlee Davis and Breyanna Bernard scored the last five points of the game for PRC.

“We played them a lot closer than we did last year but we don’t want to be content with being close, we played really hard and had a lot of positive moments but if we could have taken care of some little things towards the end, the outcome might have been different,” PRC Head girls basketball Coach Tony LaBella said. “Next week is critical because we play two really good teams in Lamar Christian on Monday and Picayune on Friday. Picayune is a well-coached team, they’re going to be ready for us and they’ll be after us since we won the first matchup earlier in the season.”

Samantha Orgeron had eight points, Spence and Davis finished the game with seven each and Bernard had six.

In the first quarter, PRC trailed 7-6 and heading into halftime, the Lady Devils trailed 21-17.

During the third quarter, Hattiesburg outscored PRC 14-10. Of those 10 points, Bernard scored four and Lee, Amy Mitchell and Orgeron had two each.

Also, Lee finished the game with five points and Brooklyn Howe had four.

The Lady Devils will play its next district game at Kelly Wise Gymnasium against the Lady Maroon Tide Friday night. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m.