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PRC girls basketball knocked out of playoffs

The basketball team for the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils had a home playoff game Feb. 17 against South Jones and lost 33-31.

The loss knocked the Lady Blue Devils out of the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion.

PRC trailed multiples during the game, but fought back to take the lead with under a minute to go.

However, a last second desperation heave from the three point line by South Jones bounced once off the rim into the air, then down through the net to give the Lady Braves the victory.

The surprise ending means South Jones will advance to the second round of the playoffs, while simultaneously ending the Lady Blue Devils’ season.

Obviously it wasn’t the result PRC wanted, but Head Coach Tony Labella said he couldn’t fault his players for the final score.

“I think they did incredibly well. I watched the film and I think it was the hardest we played all year,” Labella said.

The two teams were evenly matched and the defensive tenacity of both squads led to a low scoring game.

Labella said his players’ effort and willingness to defend kept the game close for the Lady Blue Devils; the ball just didn’t bounce their way.

“I think all of them stepped up and played well. I didn’t coach a perfect game, but the effort was outstanding,” Labella said.

“You can’t go back to this missed shot or this missed free throw and say it cost us the game. If the ball bounces the other way we’re talking about how good (the win) was for the school,” Labella said.

The home game against the Lady Braves ended up being the last game of the seniors’ high school basketball careers.

The upperclassmen were leaders for the team while contributing on and off the court.

Breyanna Bernard, Payton Lee, Eden Henley and Elana Hawthorne gave it their all against South Jones to try and extend the team’s season, but an unlucky bounce meant the senior class instead would be moving into the offseason.

“In a perfect world you put your heart and soul into something and you get a Hollywood ending. Sometimes you just don’t get that,” Labella said.

The team’s final record was 17-11 and 4-2 in district.

Labella said he’ll give his players some time off to recover from the rough ending to the season.

PRC was playing its best basketball heading into the district tournament, which is when teams want to peak.

However, the season is long and the grind saw the majority of players deal with some kind of injury.

Now will be a time for the athletes to rest and recuperate, even though the players would rather be preparing for a second round playoff game. “All of them had injuries for a good part of the year.  They worked through them and had a lot of courage. We did everything but win,” Labella said.

Labella said the team’s break will likely end within the next week or so, while several athletes are moving on to other sports as well.