What started out as a bit of a struggle for the South Pike boys Tuesday night, turned into a gritty comeback as the Eagles erased a nine-point deficit and went on a late run topping rival McComb 52-47 at home in the District 6-4A opener.
“Tonight the things that we learned in the Vicksburg game and the Jefferson Davis (County) game payed off,” South Pike head coach Hilton Harrell said. “We were able to shift some people in and sit some people out and change up some defenses and find out who has got the hot hand.”
Those hot hands for the Eagles (8-3, 1-0) belonged to Jaborri McGhee, who had 22 points, and Zaveon Williams, who had 15. The majority of McGhee’s scoring came from the free throw line where the junior made 16-of-22 attempts including eight makes in the fourth quarter alone helping to ice the game.
“Earlier in the game I missed three and what was going through my head was just follow through,” McGhee said. “I just knew that those (late) free throws can win us the game and they did.”
Despite pulling out the win, the Eagles had difficulty slowing down the Tigers (4-4, 0-1) in the first quarter. Both Edric Spurlock and Isaac Gray connected on 3-pointers and they were complimented by makes from Brodrick Thompson and Jameer Lewis. McComb raced out to an 11-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
Late in the quarter, the Eagles began to catch fire. A 10-1 run erased a nine-point deficit, tying the game at 21 at the half.
With South Pike trailing by two entering the fourth quarter, it was time for Williams to step up. The senior got into a groove and scored on three consecutive possessions, contributing with a basket and back-to-back 3-pointers once again to put South Pike on top at 40-34.
“I’m just blessed, I’m just glad that my teammates found me,” Williams said. “I was just moving around trying to break the defense down, trying to get them (McComb) tired and I just knocked the shots down.”
With 37 seconds to go in the game, a big 3-pointer from Eric Powell pulled McComb to within two at 45-43, but that would be the closest that the Tigers would get for the rest of the game as key free throws from McGhee down the stretch helped South Pike pull out the win.
The Tigers had three players finish in double digits in scoring. Spurlock led the way with 14 while Thompson had 11 and Gray 10.
After the game, a disappointed McComb coach Karshae Peterson said that it is important for his guys to put the loss behind them and turn their attention toward their next district game Friday against their other county rival in North Pike.
“It is another big one, back-to-back,” he said. “We are going to use this loss at motivation for the next nine games. I told them I hope this one hurt. We made some mental mistakes towards the end of the second half but we are going to use this to fuel the rest of the season.”
McComb girls defeat S. Pike
Picking up where they left off with last season’s 10-0 district run, the McComb girls kept that momentum going, defeating South Pike 67-39 Tuesday night in the District 6-4A opener.
“The young ladies were focused, (although) we did start off a little slow,” McComb head coach Charlton Grey. “It is always a rival game between South Pike and McComb and sometimes the score doesn’t depict that but it is still a rivalry game.”
The Tigers (7-3, 1-0) spread the ball around early on as five different players registered points including Deondrea Young and Kinesha Harris, who each connected on 3-pointers. The 12-point first quarter effort was good enough to give McComb a five-point lead over the Eagles heading into the second quarter.
It was then when the Eagles began to get into a groove. A pair of 3-pointers from Symiahya Jackson and another from Shayla Johnson helped spark South Pike in the second as they put up 16-points. However, it was matched by McComb who once again got a balanced attack, led by four of senior Allaijah Gamble’s team-high 17 points.
“We just knew that we had to bring it in this game with this being our first district game,” Gamble said. “And with me being a senior I had to step up.”
She continued to do that in the third quarter, putting together her strongest play of the night. She kicked off the scoring effort in the third with a 3-pointer, baskets on back-to-back possessions, a steal and a fast-break layup, which gave the Tigers a 49-28 advantage.
From there, McComb maintained its stellar play while running out the clock to preserve the win. In addition to Gamble’s big night, the Tigers also got 14 points each from Harris and Calise Jackson and 12 from Young.
Harrell, who also coaches the girls team, said it was disappointing to see his team fall behind and not be able to recover. But he gave plenty of credit to McComb. “They were really shooting well tonight,” Harrell said. “They were hot and it seemed like there was a lid on the rim for us. We were flat tonight.”