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PRC basketball ready for district tournament

The Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils basketball team beat the Long Beach Lady Bearcats 42-23 on Feb. 3.

The win came on the heels of back to back losses to Hattiesburg and Lumberton.

The victory over Long Beach was PRC’s last district game and the result secured the number two seed for the Lady Blue Devils.

However, the regular season isn’t quite over for PRC as they have two more games remaining before the district tournament.

First up will be a matchup with St. Patrick Feb. 4 followed by a game against Pearl River, La. Feb. 6.

Neither game will have an effect on the team’s seeding, so there won’t be as much pressure on the players heading into those games.

Coaches could be tempted to rest some of their important players in order to lessen the chance of injury now that the seeding is determined, but Head Coach Tony Labella said the team can’t be overly cautious heading into the district tournament.

Having momentum going into the tournament could be beneficial and coaches wouldn’t want their players to get rusty by having too much time off before the district tournament.

“I don’t think you can be overly cautious because a kid can get hurt at practice just like (they) can in a game. You don’t play them as much as you would in a district championship, but I don’t think you sit them out,” Labella said.

The Lady Blue Devils will take on Picayune’s Lady Maroon Tide in the first round of the district tournament.

The game will take place Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. on Picayune’s home court.

PRC won both games between the two teams this season, but the Lady Blue Devils did the same thing last season before falling to Picayune in the district tournament.

Labella said his players remember what happened last year and are looking to change the narrative heading into the district tournament this year.

“This time we’re trying to not let history repeat itself. I think the teams are comparable as far as talent level,” Labella said.

The evenly matched teams will be competing for a spot in the district championship game, which takes place Feb. 14 against the winner of the Long Beach and Hattiesburg game.

Playoff spots will be on the line because the two teams who make it to the championship game automatically advance to the state playoffs.

However, the loser of the first round game will have to win a consolation game in order to get into the postseason.

Teams will be pulling out all the stops to try and win the tournament games, so Labella said there would be some work done in practice to clean up things the team hasn’t done before in a competitive setting.

“We need to pick up the energy and maybe sub a little more. It’s hard to work on things in district because you don’t want to show everything,” Labella said.