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PRC basketball on a roll heading into tournament

Pearl River Central’s Blue Devils basketball team took on the Long Beach Bearcats Feb. 3 and won 64-56.

It was the final district game of the season for the Blue Devils and saw the team clinch the number three seed heading into the district tournament.

The following day, PRC took on the St. Patrick Fighting Irish and won for the second time in two days, this time with a score of 66-44.

“I think you always want to play your best basketball towards the end of the year. After the last two games I believe we’re doing just that,” Head Coach Scott Stephens said.

St. Patrick wasn’t a district opponent, so the result didn’t affect the team’s seeding, but it’ll give the Blue Devils some momentum heading into the district tournament next week.

The Blue Devils will now begin preparing for a first round matchup against the Picayune Maroon Tide that’s scheduled for Feb. 11.

The two teams went head to head twice last month.

Picayune won the first game 57-49 and the second matchup 43-35.

The game should be intense as the squads battle for a spot in the district championship game.

“Your defense and rebounding has to come into play before anything else. If you take care of those two aspects you put yourself in a great position to win,” Stephens said.

If PRC wins, the Blue Devils will play the winner of the Long Beach, Hattiesburg game on Feb. 14.

However, if PRC falls to Picayune the team will have to win a consolation game in order to advance to the state playoffs. The Blue Devils have a talented team that includes some experienced senior players.

Kelton Seal, Elway Fitzgerald, Connor Tynes and Caden Thompson will have to lead the team as the Blue Devils hope to make it into the state playoffs after missing out last year.

“I think it’s important to have your guys that have been through the fire, so to speak, lead the way. Tuesday they have to step up and make plays,” Stephens said.

The familiarity between the Maroon Tide and Blue Devils means there will be few surprises for either team when the players take the court.

Each team’s strategies and top players are already known at this point in the season, but it’ll be how the players handle the extra pressure that could determine the outcome.

Stephens said his players would need to play their game and ignore the extra noise if they want to win.

“The biggest thing for us is to not let the magnitude of this get to us. We have to do a really good job of making sure everything is as sharp as it can possibly be,” Stephens said.

The Feb. 11 game between Picayune and PRC is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. and will take place in Picayune’s Kelly Wise Gym.