PRC boys basketball win playoff game to advance

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 20, 2020

Pearl River Central’s varsity basketball team beat West Jones 49-41 on Feb. 18 in a game played on the Blue Devils’ home court.

The game was a tale of two halves.

West Jones was the better team to start the game and played well in the hostile atmosphere.

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At halftime Coach Stephens galvanized his players and they responded with a high-energy second half to win the game.

“We had to challenge the kids at halftime to fix it. I thought we had a great second half. We executed better and had a little more fight in us,” Stephens said.

West Jones had some good size down low, but the combined efforts of Brady Johnson and Connor Tynes contained the physical West Jones team.

PRC rebounded well as a group and dogged the Mustangs defensively to earn the victory.

“I thought Brady and Connor did a wonderful job of taking care of (the West Jones’ center.) I think each one brought something to the table to get that done,” Stephens said.

Some clutch shots by Tyaon Terrel, Kelton Seal and Caden Thompson extended the lead for the Blue Devils before PRC put the game away at the line.

The Blue Devils haven’t backed down from an opponent this year and a lot of that has to do with the team’s physicality.

PRC wanted the game more than West Jones and it showed in the final score.

“We have to play harder, we have to battle and put in the extra effort to get things done,” Stephens said.

The atmosphere was electric all game as the Blue Devils’ home crowd made their presence felt.

Being able to play a first round playoff game in front of friendly fans can be beneficial and PRC took advantage of the arena’s energy.

Stephens said PRC’s home crowd has a spirit and excitement that brings a unique home court advantage.

“We’ve got one of the best atmospheres in high school basketball in this state and I don’t think it’s close. In the playoffs it takes everyone, not just the coaches and players, but all 400 people (to win),” Stephens said.

The team will now advance to the second round of the playoffs.

PRC will have an away game against Forest Hill Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

Stephens said that against a squad like Forest Hill the Blue Devils can’t afford to have a slow start to the game like Tuesday’s matchup against West Jones.

PRC will need to be intense from the start in order to earn a victory against the Patriots and Stephens knows it.

“We have to be ready to play from the tip. We have to have a quick start and ride that momentum, hopefully to a win,” Stephens said.

The game will be played in front of a hostile crowd away from home, so maintaining composure will be key for the Blue Devils.

Still, Stephens said he wants to see more of the same that has gotten PRC to this point.

Energy, effort and execution will go a long way in potentially beating Forest Hill.

“I want to see the kids fight and not back down, which they haven’t (this year). I want them to show up, be ready to play and I want to see them battle,” Stephens said.