Pascagoula slipped by Gautier 33-32 in Region 8-5A boys basketball action on Friday.
With seven seconds left in regulation, Pascagoula’s Jordan Robinson missed the front end of a one-and-one. Xavier Diamond grabbed the rebound for the Gators (8-12, 0-3) and quickly brought the ball up court.
However, Diamond missed a short jumper with two seconds left . DeAndre Torrey grabbed the offensive board for Gautier and quickly launched a second shot. The attempt sailed wide of the basket as the Panthers (16-5, 3-1) held on.
The Panthers’ win sets up a Region 8-5A contest at home next Friday against West Harrison. The Hurricanes beat the Panthers 48-47 on a buzzer-beater Jan. 10.
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“All the games are important,” said Pascagoula coach Lorenzo Wright. “But the loss does make the game against the Hurricanes a little more important.”
Behind DeQuan Weatherspoon, who scored a game-high 17 points in the game, Pascagoula came into the fourth quarter nursing a slim 32-28 lead.
The Panthers recently put in a version of Dean Smith’s North Carolina fabled four corners offense. With the game close and Gautier playing a tight zone, Pascagoula started letting the air out of the ball.
“We initially didn’t plan to use it,” Wright said. “But we decided to go to it due to the flow of the game.”
For four minutes, Robinson dribbled the ball at midcourt with Gautier setting back in their zone not taking the bait. After a Panthers time out, the Gators moved up to force Pascagoula to move the ball around.
Behind guards Robinson, Jayden McCorvey, Noel Jones, and Burley, the Panthers showed off their dribbling skills, keeping the ball out of Gautier’s hands. For three minutes, the Panthers’ dribbling skills paid off.
However, with 1:04 left, Gators D.J. Johnson got the steal and raced to the basket, connecting on a lay-up, apparently cutting the Pascagoula lead to 32-30. Johnson, though, was called for a charge and points came off the board.
Gautier managed to get Pascagoula on the free throw line with 25 seconds for a one-and-one. D’Yasmond Booker connected on the first, but missed the second. Diamond grabbed his first defensive rebound of the final 30 seconds and pushed the ball up court completing his play with a lay-up that cut the Panthers’ lead to 33-32 with 15 seconds left.
“We had our chances at it,” said Gautier coach Keith McQueen. “Torrey thought the buzzer was going to go off and rushed his shot. It came down to the last shot.”
Wright was glad the Panthers escaped Gautier with a win.
“We were fortunate to get the win,” he said. “We couldn’t ice the game at the free throw line. We are a young team, but we have to make free throws. However, we will take the win.
“We are far from playing our best basketball. We have a whole lot of room for getting better as a team. We are not close. We have to keep building and trying to improve.”
The win keeps the Panthers in control of their own destiny in Region 8-5A.
“We control our own fate in the region,” Wright said. “If we take things one game at a time and take care of business, we control our future.”
Diamond led Gautier with 10 points. DeOnta Lawler added eight points and Johnson finished with six points. Burley finished with seven points, five in the third quarter.
Pascagoula girls 40, Gautier 22: Behind Ziquana Grady’s seven points, Gautier built an 18-11 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.
From there on out, it was all Jailin Cherry as the Panthers (12-10, 4-0) went on a 29-4 run over the last 18 minutes of the game. Cherry led the way for the Panthers with a triple double: 25 points, 10 steals, and 10 rebounds. Treani Richardson added seven points and six rebounds.
Joan Carter added six points for the Gators. Grady added 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.