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PRC basketball ready for tough road to playoffs

The Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils basketball team crushed Bay St. Louis 35-10 on Dec. 20 in one of the team’s final games of 2019.

The start of the New Year signals a shift into the second half of the season for PRC and winning so handily will serve as a confidence boost for the team heading into a post Christmas tournament held on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28.

Head Coach Tony Labella said the game against Bay might’ve been his squad’s most complete game all season.

“We were really efficient with the ball and shot the ball well. Defensively we got them to take some shots from outside,” Labella said.

It was another step in the right direction for a team that’s currently on a three game winning streak.

Starting point guard Eden Henley will be returning from injury for the second half of the season, giving Labella even more depth on the bench.

Injuries have hit the team hard multiple times this season, but losing starters has allowed younger players to get valuable minutes on the court.

Later in the season when a key player needs a break, Labella will know he has the options to sub them out and the level of play will not drop.

Right now it’s a fine line for Labella to walk as he wants to keep the momentum going by playing his best players and getting wins.

However, with each game comes the possibility of an injury, which is something Labella is well aware.

“We’re hoping to keep everybody healthy. Leading up to district you want to get better, but you don’t want somebody to get injured,” Labella said.

The Lady Blue Devils are currently 9-3 heading into their match ups against Forrest County on Dec. 27 and Presbyterian Christian on Dec. 28.

The level of play will get higher as the season progresses and PRC takes on tougher teams.

To still be able to win those games Labella said the team would need to do a better job of taking care of the ball.

“We’ve been so inconsistent with turnovers. When we have a reasonable amount we have shown we can play with decent teams,” Labella said.

PRC is in a district with Long Beach, Picayune and Hattiesburg.

Labella said those teams are skilled at taking advantage of turnovers, which makes taking care of the ball a must if the Lady Blue Devils want to win those games.

Add in talented teams like Hancock, Lamar Christian and Poplarville, and the second half of the season will provide a staunch test for PRC.

“In the past the record has fallen off in the second half (of the season). It’s not because we got worse, it’s because the quality of opponents has gotten tougher,” Labella said.

The Lady Blue Devils will be hoping to break that mold this season.