By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
The boys basketball teams from both Poplarville and Pearl River Central played for district championships Friday night.
Neither the Hornets or Blue Devils would come away with a crown, however.
In Leakesville, Poplarville led by as much as 13 points in the second half only to watch top-seeded St. Stanislaus rally in stunning fashion and pull out a 53-50 win in the Division 8-4A championship game.
Poplarville will host Quitman in the opening round of the Class 4A South State playoffs Tuesday night.
Ramon Tate scored a game high 27 points for the Rock-A-Chaws, including 15 in a decisive fourth quarter as SSC outscored the Hornets 22-11 in the final frame to take the win.
Anthony Martin paced Poplarville with 18 points and Nigel Wood added 10 points.
The Blue Devils fell to top-seed West Harrison 64-51 in the Division 8-5A championship game at Kelly Wise Gym in Picayune.
The PRC boys will now hit the road to Waynesboro and take on Wayne County Tuesday night in the opening round of the Class 5A South State playoffs.
Pearl River Central opened the game in a slow down mode offensively, trying to entice the Hurricanes to come out of their zone defense.
West Harrison was up 10-6 after the opening quarter, and when Harvey Smart hit a driving lay-up three minutes into the second stanza the Hurricanes had a 17-0 lead.
PRC’s Drew Cruz buried a 3-pointer seconds later, to cut the WHHS lead to 17-13. But the ‘Canes responded with a 10-2 run over the next four minutes, and a trey by Paul Thibodeaux made it 27-15 with less than a minute to play before intermission.
PRC’s Ashton Woodson, who scored eight points in the second quarter, hit two of three free throws with three seconds remaining to make the count 27-17 at halftime.
The Hurricanes began the second half with a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the third frame, capped by Harvey Smart’s 3-pointer that made it 36-17.
Cruz nailed another trey to kick off a bit of a spurt by PRC, making it 37-27 two minutes later. But the Blue Devils would never cut the deficit below double digits for the remainder of the game.
“Having never been this far before, I don’t think our guys really knew what to expect until the game started,” first year PRC head coach Ronnie Bowens, who has guided the Blue Devils to their first playoff appearance in school history, said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot early. We got some stops but we just couldn’t get any rebounds. They are a really good team. They have won 26 games for a reason.”
West Harrison, who swept three games from PRC this season, will open the playoffs at home Tuesday against West Jones.
Woodson paced PRC with 16 points, while Cruz chipped in 11 points and Dennan Seal scored eight points for the Blue Devils.
Smart scored a game high 17 points for the Hurricanes.