Pops was surely smiling Friday night.
Nearly 10 minutes after the final buzzer Pass Christian's girls could still be heard outside the visitor's locker room. The cheers echoed down the hallway and out into the deafening Bay High gymnasium while the boys teams warmed up.
Friday's 57-49 win over the No. 2 Lady Tigers meant so much morethan just the Lady Pirates' first rivalry win in seven years.
“I lost my dad November 11th. He was our biggest fan,” PCHS coach Greta Ainsworth said of her father, Darryl Ladner. “He followed these girls everywhere they went. He was there. He was the one fan they could look up in the stands and know who he was.
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“They dedicated this game to him and played with so much heart.”
If the streak and Pops' passing weighed on Pass Christian (6-6, 1-0), the girls didn't show it. The visitors jumped out to a 6-2 lead and held a 22-12 advantage at the first break.
“It was determination. They were just tired of getting beat by them,” Ainsworth said. “I think we got ready before the game mentally. We haven't been getting ready for games and that's one of the things I've been challenging the girls.
“You can't coach heart. That's what they had tonight.”
While Bay High (6-2, 0-1) standout Jamaya Galloway tried to will her team back into contention, the Lady Tigers never pulled closer than two points the remainder of the game.
The Lady Pirates did a good job of getting out into transition and built their early double-digit lead in large part because of points off turnovers.
“It's been seven years since we beat Bay High, but today we changed it,” Daysia Dedeaux said. “Defense made our offense pull through.”
Cayla Obillo cited improved communication for the big win.
“The last couple of games we were off, but Coach told us to step it up. Tonight, even people on the bench were talking,” she said. “We gave it to Pops and the Lord.”
Coming off of a two-game skid, Obillo hopes Friday's emotional win is a turning point for her team.
“Now we just have to keep going hard,” she said. “We can't back down and go back to sleep; we have to take it full force.”
PCHS had four girls score at least seven points, led by Dedeax and Obillo's 15- and 11-point performances.
Galloway scored a game-high 31 points.
No. 7 Pass Christian 44, No. 1 Bay 41: Not to be out done, the Pirates orchestrated their own remarkable victory Friday night.
PCHS (7-1, 1-0) held a narrow 8-7 lead after the first quarter, but Bay (6-1, 0-1) surged ahead to take a 17-9 lead into halftime. The Tigers dominated much of the next two frames — at least until the final 95 seconds of the game.
That’s when the game completely swung around.
Trailing 41-31, Aydarius Young knocked down consecutive 3-pointers and Justin Brown hit another one while being fouled to pull the Pirates within one and erupting the visiting fan base.
After a couple missed free throws by Bay High, Montez Green scored a put-back, knocked down two free throws of his own and Pass Christian held on for the rivalry win.
“We hit some big 3s in the end. In the beginning the shots weren’t falling for us but we do not give up. Three shots went in, momentum kind of swung our way and that’s all we needed,” PCHS coach Willie James said. “Opportunity knocked so we opened the door.”
After falling to Gulfport in the season opener, PCHS has reeled off seven straight victories. The biggest was undoubtedly Friday’s.
“We don’t give up. In practice and everything we do we remain a team and remain together,” James said. “We had a game plan set in. Everybody bought into it. We came over here and called it out. We said we were going to come over here and shake up the world. No. 1 team on the Coast; undefeated. We’ve just been working hard and grinding all week to get ready.”
Young had a game-high 19 points. Bay was led by Galen Smith III’s 17 points.