Another day and yet another close win for the South Pike boys. This time the Eagles put the brakes on a late rally by Natchez and got a game winning basket from MarQuis Brown with 12 seconds to go to claim a 67-65 victory Tuesday night on Day 2 of the South Pike Christmas tournament.
“It was unbelievable, I was like, wow,” said Brown. He added that he got the pass to set up his wide-open layup from Jaborri McGhee.
South Pike head coach Hilton Harrell was also thrilled to see Brown connect on the eventual game-winner late in the contest.
“As we talked to them on the sideline, they (Natchez) are going to come up and double-team Jaborri (McGhee), they are going to get on Garrett (Preston), and I need you guys to hide out underneath the rim,” Harrell said. “And one of them was going to be open and in the past we would just throw it to whoever was open but he (McGhee) made the decision to throw it to someone who has some good hands in MarQuis Brown.”
Brown’s bucket late in the contest was just a sample of a large portion of the Eagles’ (6-2) success against the Bulldogs. On several occasions, Brown, along with fellow big men Lachristopher Gardner and LaKedric Simmons, found success scoring in the paint.
The trio combined for 20 points, with Gardner recording 9 of those points and Brown 7.
And while the Eagles had stellar play in the paint, their outside game thrived as well. McGhee once again led the Eagles in scoring with 24 points, including a big first quarter in which the junior helped rocket South Pike out to a 24-9 advantage by putting up 14 points.
The lead slowly started to dwindle in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs relied upon Trevon Jackson to help carry the load as the visitors inched closer. Jackson had a team-high 17 points as he led the charge. Two of his five made free throws tied the game at 61 a little more than halfway through the fourth quarter.
After South Pike failed to answer, a Jackson field goal and one more free throw gave Natchez a three-point advantage.
Later on, Simmons made a field goal, pulling the Eagles within one and after a Natchez free throw, McGhee tied the game at 65 on a tough basket inside before Brown’s game-winner.
S. Pike girls roll past Natchez
Fresh off of a comfortable win the day before against Jim Hill, the South Pike girls picked up where they left off Monday, dropping Natchez 45-32 on Day 2 of the South Pike Christmas tournament.
“I was really pleased with how much we have improved since that first game when Natchez beat us in Natchez,” said Harrell, who also coaches the girls team. “They beat us by 10-12 points.”
The win for the Eagles (6-1) was big in their eyes, but for the second night in a row, the offense struggled to find its footing early on. Even though South Pike only managed 7 first quarter points, the defense was key, limiting the Bulldogs to just 3.
Junior Bre’Miya Cameron noticed the increased defensive efficiency.
“We did good. We hustled on defense and redeemed ourselves from last night,” she said.
The gears began turning more for the Eagles in the second quarter. Cameron — who helped kick start the South Pike scoring effort early on —was complimented by Shayla Johnson. The junior guard got into rhythm with two baskets and two free throws, keeping the Eagles in front of the Bulldogs.
In the third quarter, the offense really clicked for South Pike. Johnson made three 3-pointers, which along with baskets from Jania Tobias, Cameron and Tatiana Butler, fueled the Eagles. Johnson was her team’s leading scorer with 17 points.
Down the stretch, Cameron once again stepped up her game with four of her 11 points as South Pike rode away with the win.