Maroon Tide knocks off Tomcats, 69-54

GULFPORT — After a brief one year absence, Picayune’s boys returned to the Class 5A South State basketball playoffs Tuesday night.

The Maroon Tide overcame a sluggish first half with a dominating performance in the third quarter, en route to a 69-54 win over Stone County here at West Harrison High School in the opening round of the Region 7-5A Tournament.

Picayune, now 16-12 overall, will face either West Harrison or Long Beach for the tourney title Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a huge win for our program, making the postseason,” second year head coach Scott Stephens said.

“You get to this point and it don’t matter what type of regular season you had, to build our program to where we want it to be we need to be in the playoffs.”

The Tide led throughout the most of the first quarter, as Shemar Williams tallied eight points in the first frame.

But Stone center Peyton Owen, who nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer six weeks ago to beat the Maroon Tide, started a Tomcat comeback with an inside basket mid-way through the second stanza.

That hoop began a 13-3 Stone run to end the first half, putting the Tomcats up 28-21 at intermission. Stone’s Amari Lewis tallied 11 points in the period, and had seven points in the big Tomcat run.

The Maroon Tide, though, opened the second half with a 9-0 spurt, that concluded with a 3-pointer by Donovan Rice, to get right back in the mix.

The Maroon Tide’s impressive work in the third frame continued, as Boderick Scott nailed a 3-pointer at the one minute mark to put Picayune up 45-38.

Rice then drilled an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Picayune a 48-40 lead entering the fourth period after the Maroon Tide outscored the Tomcats 27-12 in the third quarter.

Rice then repeated the feat in the first few seconds of the fourth period, putting Picayune up 51-40. Stone would never get closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“We just turned up the intensity level in the third quarter,” Stephen added. “Rice is our senior point guard, our rock. He did all the things we needed him to do for us to get back in the game there in the third quarter. We executed lot better offensively, thanks in large part to him.”

Picayune got 18 points from Williams and 15 points from Rice in the win. Hakeem Magee chipped in 14 points and Scott added 11 points to the winning effort, giving the Maroon Tide four players in double digits.

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