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Picayune basketball building momentum in district

The Picayune Maroon Tide basketball team took on the Long Beach Bearcats in an important district game on Jan. 17 and won 65-57.

Following the game against Long Beach the Maroon Tide took on the Clinton Arrows Jan. 20 and lost 78-43.

The game against the Arrows wasn’t a district game, so the result didn’t affect the Maroon Tide’s district standing. Picayune currently sits at second with a 2-1 district record.

Head Coach Eric Vianney said winning against Long Beach was a big step in the right direction for his program after struggling to string together consecutive wins this season.

“We wanted to be there and wanted to compete. This year we struggled to put games on the winning side back to back, so it was great to see we were able to pull that off,” Vianney said.

Playing with high energy and good effort has been something Vianney has been preaching to his players all season.

In basketball, effort plays can sometimes be the difference makers in determining a game’s outcome. Things like diving for loose balls, preventing an easy lay up on a fast break and taking a charge are all effort plays, which can swing momentum in a team’s favor.

Those types of plays are what Vianney said he wants to see and his players have understood the message as the season has progressed.

“We started to see a little improvement in that area and we try to be consistent, but it’s hard to be consistent. We struggle with that aspect of the game,” Vianney said.

Picayune has faced some tough opponents this season outside of district play.

Vianney said those experiences helped expose the team to different types of pressure and styles of play.

As the season has progressed Picayune has used that knowledge to take on district opponents, which has paid dividends with victories over Pearl River Central and Long Beach.

However, another district matchup is fast approaching for the Maroon Tide and this time it’ll be the PRC Blue Devils traveling to Picayune’s Kelly Wise Gym on Jan. 24.

A win against the Blue Devils would put Picayune in a commanding position within the district with only two district games remaining after that matchup.

However, a loss would see Picayune fall within striking distance of the PRC and Long Beach. The Bearcats are currently 1-2 in district while the Blue Devils are 0-3.  There’s a lot at stake when the two county rivals meet and Vianney said he hopes his team is prepared for the upcoming challenge.

“We want to be ready and want to defend our home court. We’ll be working hard and from there we’ll see what happens,” Vianney said. Picayune is evenly matched against the Blue Devils, so Vianney has been focusing on those effort plays. Picayune won the previous matchup 57-49, so PRC will be looking for revenge when the two teams face off.

“If we can commit to playing hard we would probably see an improvement and see good results. We have to continue to keep preaching that stuff,” Vianney said. Tip off between the Maroon Tide and Blue Devils is set for 7:30 p.m.