All season long Kinesha Harris has been a good complementary piece to seniors Allaijah Gamble, Chanel Gayden and others. However, on Friday night, she was arguably the biggest contributor. The junior scored six of her team-high 13 points in overtime helping McComb get past district and county rival North Pike 43-41.
“They kept leaving the 3-ball open and was packing down the middle so we shot the 3,” Harris said.
Even though the Tigers (8-3, 2-0) and the Jaguars (3-4, 0-1) battled hard and eventually forced overtime, both got off to slow starts offensively. It took nearly a half of a quarter for the ball to go in the basket as the defenses set the tone early.
“She (North Pike head coach Laura Holman) came out in an ‘I,’ which is a 2-3 zone and I was trying to let them make the adjustment,” McComb head coach Charlton Grey said. “We came out sluggish and we had open looks, but they did not fall.”
The scoreless streak came to a halt at the 4:06 mark, when North Pike’s lone senior, Jamey McDaniel, hit a mid-range shot. She quickly followed that up with another on the Jaguars’ next possession.
McComb’s first points came about a minute later when Tiger senior Deondrea Young answered with a 3-pointer.
And not long after that Harris scored her only point of the quarter on a free throw, giving McComb its first lead at 6-5.
From that point until about halfway through the third quarter, both teams traded baskets in a stretch that saw seven lead changes between the county rivals as they tried to get into a rhythm.
Toward the end of the fourth quarter, North Pike tied the game at 35 when McDaniel connected on a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left.
In overtime, it was Harris who kicked off the period for McComb with a 3-pointer. The make was followed by a free throw from Gayden and a field goal from Harris, putting the Tigers out in front.
But the Jaguars battled back, pulling within one at 42-41 following a 3-pointer from Amari Barnes.
After getting the ball back with only seconds to go Amari Davis drove toward the basket but could not complete the play.
Holman argued that a foul should have been called on the play but the referees did not do so. After the game, she said that her team missed some opportunities in the loss.
“We could never get our energy to fall our way,” she said. “That falls on us just being mentally tough and when you are missing baskets, you can’t let it affect your energy and we say that every day at practice.”
Tigers shut down Jaguars
Coming off of a disappointing loss to South Pike earlier in the week to open district play, McComb head coach Karshae Peterson and the Tigers wanted to right the ship against their other county rival in North Pike. And they did just that Friday night, picking up a 39-31 home win over the Jaguars.
Despite the win, Peterson said his team could have played much better
“We played sloppy,” he said. “We had some good moments but we had more sloppy than good ones. I’m glad that we won but it was sloppy. I’m hoping that this is the last one.”
Early in the contest, the Tigers (5-4, 1-1) lost senior Brodrick Thompson to an injury and he did not return to the game. Peterson believes this was one of the key factors that led to his team underachieving.
“I think that it kind of messed the chemistry up a little bit with some of the stuff that we do and some of the stuff that we have been practicing to get prepared for this game. It threw us off a little bit,” he said.
What started off as a back-and-forth contest in the first half quickly got out of hand in the second.
While the Tigers’ defense limited the Jaguars (4-6, 0-2) to just two third quarter points, on the other end of the floor, junior Jameer Lewis put the Tigers on his back with key makes helping McComb begin to pull away.
“I had two fouls early and I kind of got unfocused, making mental mistakes,” he said. “I had to calm down and listen to the coaches and start doing what the team needed me to do.”
He followed that up with six of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and was complimented by pristine free throw shooting from Isaac Gray who made five of six from the charity stripe in the final period.
All nine of his points in the game came from the free throw line.
Following the game, North Pike head coach Terrell Anderson said that it was an off night for his team with shooting the 3.
“We are used to our 3’s falling and tonight they did not,” he said. “It is just one of those things that when our shot isn’t falling, we have to play better defense.”