Pascagoula led from start to finish in its 51-44 victory over Picayune at HoopsFest on Saturday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
The Panthers (19-5) made four free throws in the final 15 seconds to pull away from the Maroon Tide, who got a game-high 22 points from Stephane Ayangma.
Pascagoula led Picayune by as many as eleven points in the second quarter, but Picayune closed that gap to five points as the third quarter came to a close.
Picayune tied the game at 37-37 with just over six minutes remaining in the game, and then tied it twice more at 42 and 44 before closing the game with seven unanswered points.
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Jayden McCorvey scored on a three-pointer with just over three minutes remaining. Eric Smith followed that with two free throws. McCorvey sank two more to close the game’s scoring.
“My guys knew that Picayune was going to make a run,” said Pascagoula’s coach Lorenzo Wright. “We’ve gotten better at finishing. For three quarters we gave away points at the end of the quarter. But we found a way down the stretch to make free throws and put the game away.
“It was a good collective effort, a great defensive effort because we had to help down on the big kid. That’s a credit to these guys growing up.”
Noel Jones led the charge for the Panthers, scoring 20 points. He scored eight points in the first quarter and seven during the second quarter.
Picayune opened the fourth quarter on a 10-5 run, tying the game at 42-42 with just over five minutes remaining. But they could not stop Pascagoula down the stretch.
“We did a great job in the fourth quarter,” Wright said. “Games like this against teams like Picayune, every possession matters, every point matters.”