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Poplarville basketball knocked out of the playoffs

The Poplarville Hornets basketball team had a playoff game away from home at Florence Hill Feb. 18 and lost 97-56.

The loss ended the season for the Hornets, sending the team into its offseason.

Head Coach Run Bowen said the team’s game plan was solid against Forest Hill, even allowing the Hornets to build a lead early in the game.

Fouls became an issue early on.

Some of Poplarville’s key players were forced to the bench and that’s when Forest Hill was able to take advantage of the Hornets’ lack of depth.

Bowen said the penalties ended up being a double-edged sword.

It made some of his better players take a seat, but in turn allowed younger athletes to gain invaluable playoff experience, in a hostile environment no less.

“Because we got in foul trouble and dumped the bench, kids who wouldn’t normally get a lot of time (on the court) did. That should pay dividends in the future,” Bowen said.

Big game nerves can be common for young teams like the Hornets, especially when having to participate in a playoff game on the road.

Bowen said the jitters ended up affecting the older players more so than the inexperienced ones.

“(The younger players) almost played like they didn’t have anything to lose and the moment wasn’t too big for them,” Bowen said.

Bowen preaches three pillars of basketball to his players that allow teams to be successful on the court.

Getting stops defensively, taking care of the ball and sharing the ball are all things Bowen has been trying to instill in his players since day one.

Against Forest Hill the stakes were higher than usual, but Bowen said for the most part his team did a good job of staying with those principles.

The refs called the game closely, so getting stops for the Hornets was hard because the players had to find the right amount of aggression while trying to avoid fouling.

Bowen said turnovers weren’t the downfall of his team against Forest Hill, but that his players at times struggled to keep the ball moving offensively.

“Some of the kids, when you get down, they want to do too much to get back in it. They didn’t want the season to end, so they (were) putting too much on their backs and trying to do it by themselves,” Bowen said.

The matchup against Forrest Hill was the final high school basketball game for the two seniors on the team; William Jordan and Keegon Wash.

Bowen had been coaching the duo since they were sophomores and he said the two worked hard to reach their potential.

“From sophomores to seniors they really developed. I think they developed and reached their ceiling,” Bowen said.

Once the season ended the team set about getting things ready for the offseason.

Starting next week the team will begin training again with a vertical leap program, weight lifting and also working on basic fundamentals in preparation for the summer leagues.