Pike County hoops shine at AAU event

EA Thunder 16U’s Jaheim Bell drives around a Mississippi Ballers’ defender during Saturday’s Second Annual Thunder Classic at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

After travelling to and having success at multiple AAU tournaments thus far this year, the time came for the EA Thunder to play hosts last weekend. And the results were mostly positive as the three Thunder teams finished strong at the 2nd Annual Thunder Classic at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

Thunder 16U Wins tournament

The EA Thunder 16U squad’s championship game against the Mississippi Ballers out of Jackson started out as a back-and-forth contest but the Thunder were able to hang on for the 45-42 win.

South Pike’s JaBorri McGhee helped carry the Thunder early on, scoring eight of his team’s first 10 points.

Three additional players chipped in as the Thunder kept pace with the Ballers. With the score tied at 18 late in the first half, McGhee completed a three-point play putting the Thunder ahead at the intermission.

A 10-2 run by the Ballers early in the second half put the Thunder behind the eight ball but Jameer Lewis helped spark a rally bringing his team within three at 31-28.

The Thunder then relied on Jaheim Ball who hit back-to-back 3-pointers giving his team its first lead of the second half at 34-33. “With my teammates trusting and believing in me it helped me out a lot,” he said.

Both teams continued trading blows until late in the contest when Ball connected on three of four free throws helping secure the win for his squad. He finished with 17 points while McGhee had 14.

Thunder head coach Cavadas Nunnery was proud of the way his team continued to fight and pull out the victory. “I just excited for the boys,” he said. “Last year, we had a chance to win our tournament but we lost a close one. This year we wanted to redeem ourselves and win our own tournament.”

McComb Girls win 17U

After defeating the EA Thunder girls in the 17U Tournament, the McComb Tigers entered the championship game against the Lady Hoopers of Louisiana with a high level of confidence. They used that momentum to jump out to an early lead and walk away with a 31-18 win.

It didn’t take long for McComb’s Alisha Tucker to make her presence known. The rising senior scored nine early points helping the Tigers race out to a 10-6 lead. She added another 3-point play to close out the first half making the score 16-7.

The Hoopers started to put up a more consistent fight about halfway through the second half, but a pair of free throws from Tucker squashed the Louisiana rally and sparked one for McComb as the Tigers rode it out to the win.

“It feels good,” said Tucker who recorded 17 points. “We played with six players and we’ve been playing the whole tournament and we’ve been playing hard and we came out with the win. This just shows that with six players, we can do it.”

Thunder 13U finishes runner up

The EA Thunder 13U team knew that it had a tough task ahead of them as they prepared to face the LA Thunder out of Jonesville, Louisiana. The Thunder was allowed to move up and compete in the 14U division and despite putting up a strong fight, they could not pull out the win, falling 44-33 in the finals.

“We normally play in the 13U division and we played up in the 14U division. I wanted to see if we could handle the 14U division,” said Nunnery who also coaches the 13U team. “We beat that team in the first game but in the second, we came out a little flat. And also this is the first game we have played together since the second week of May.”

Both teams got off to positive starts as they were engaged in a back-and-forth contest. EA took a four-point lead into the half and grew that lead to as much as seven at 22-15 early in the second but a 10-0 run by Louisiana put the visitors back on top.

After grabbing a quick one-point lead about halfway through the period, the EA Thunder could not keep the momentum going before ultimately falling. Jaylin Nunnery led EA with 11 points.

Despite the loss, Nunnery looked at the game as a lesson learned for his team. “It was a great experience to play a team that is older than us, to get to see where we are at,” he said.

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