PRC basketball off to a fast start

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Pearl River Central Blue Devils’ basketball squad is a young team with only a few experienced players.

However, that hasn’t stopped PRC from bursting out the gates to start the season with three straight victories.

The first opponent of the year was the George County Rebels, a game that the Blue Devils won handily 41-28.

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Three days later PRC took on Seminary and won again, this time 46-25.

Most recently on Monday the Blue Devils went up against the Perry Central Bulldogs and won 59-31.

Three dominant wins have coincided with effective play from veterans Payton Lee and Breyanna Bernard.

Both had career high scoring outputs against the Bulldogs and Head Coach Tony Labella said the two seniors have provided excellent leadership to start the season.

“They have scored double figures in all three games. They’ve done a good job of being a stabilizing force for us,” Labella said.

The key to PRC’s success has come down to inexperienced players stepping up and performing well when their name is called.

It’s important in such a fast paced sport like basketball to have depth on the bench and Labella said getting his rotation filled out is the priority during these early games.

“We’ve had some more people step up and shoot, but we’re trying to find that rotation. We’re trying to get it to where it’s consistent,” Labella said.

Finding consistency may be hard with a squad where over half of the players are underclassmen.

However, one aspect of the game that hasn’t been an issue for the Blue Devils is rebounding.

Bernard has played a large role in the team’s rebounding dominance, recording 48 rebounds over the first three games.

Now Labella wants to see his team make more plays on the offensive end.

Labella said his players sometimes see an opportunity too late and aren’t able to capitalize on an opponent’s error.

“On offense we’ve missed a lot of open people. There have been some plays that have been there, but we’ve been a second late,” Labella said.

An additional aspect Labella said his team needs to improve upon is on the defensive end of the court.

Having a high court press can force an opponent to commit a turnover, but it’s a fine line to walk.

There’s always the possibility of accidentally fouling the ball handler and there will be times as well where the offense is able to exploit the press with a quick counterattack.

Honing in on that aspect and perfecting the team’s overall defensive play is something the players will be focusing on in practice.

“We want to press the ball, but we know we can’t foul and we need to stay out of foul trouble. We have to do a better job of creating offense from our defense,” Labella said.

The Blue Devils will put their win streak on the line when they take on Our Lady Academy Nov. 14 with tipoff set for 5 p.m.