Jayden McCorvey soared high for the alley-oop dunk with 42 seconds remaining and the celebration was on for the Pascagoula Panthers Tuesday night at St. Martin High School.
Much like McCorvey’s basketball career, the Pascagoula boys team is on an upward trajectory to begin Region 7-6A competition with a 47-41 victory in the region opener for both squads.
The Panthers (11-7, 1-0) had a bumpy run with three losses in the final five games of December, but it appears that the new year will be much more kind to third-year coach Lorenzo Wright’s squad. Pascagoula thumped Picayune last week before handing St. Martin (14-2, 0-1) its second loss of the season and first in a month.
McCorvey, who entered Tuesday’s game averaging 19.8 points and 6.6 rebounds, pitched in 12 points against a pesky St. Martin defense.
Since Nov. 30, McCorvey has five games where he has scored at 23 points or more, including a season high of 37 in a 70-53 victory over Corinth on Dec. 29.
That hot run has only increased the interest of college programs with Wichita State and Troy offering McCorvey his first two Division I scholarships in December.
Southeastern Louisiana, Samford, South Alabama and Florida State have also shown interest in the lanky senior.
From point guard to power forward, the 6-foot-4 McCorvey is capable of playing just about any position on the court on the high school level.
In college, he should fit in anywhere on the perimeter.
“He’s progressed a whole lot compared to last year,” Wright said. “He’s added to his jump shot. His mid-range jumper is pretty deep. He takes care of the ball and doesn’t turn it over. He’s just a really solid guard.”
Considering Wichita State is a consistent contender for a Final Four bid, McCorvey’s list of offers should only grow with time. He said Tuesday night that he doesn’t plan to take any recruiting visits until his senior campaign comes to a close.
McCorvey, who is hitting 37 percent of his 3-pointers, said that college coaches told him that they’d like to see him work on his jump this season, and he’s proven up to the task so far during the 2018-19 season.
McCorvey isn’t the only threat to consistently score in double digits with fellow 6-foot-4 senior D’yasmond Booker averaging a double-double of 15 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.
On Tuesday night, Booker pitched in 10 points.
“Teams are scheming around (McCorvey) and Booker,” Wright said. “Role players are going to be huge for us. They’ve got to step up and be able to make plays.”
St. Martin’s final lead of Friday’s was 11-10 at the end of the first quarter as Pascagoula managed to find off the Yellow Jackets in the second half. The Panthers did a good job at earning second-chance points with 16 offensive rebounds.
“We missed countless lay-ups,” St. Martin coach Charlie Pavlus said. “I thought we did a good job defensively, but we can’t give up that many offensive rebounds.”
Booker’s alley-oop slam with 42 seconds remaining gave Pascagoula its largest lead of the game at 44-34, putting the Panthers in a great position to fulfill their role of region favorite when the season began.
St. Martin will need to find a way win at Pascagoula on Jan. 18 to get back in contention for a No. 1 seed in 7-6A.
“To get this first one here is good,” Wright said. “We played them last year and we come over last year and we lose. It’s not done. Charlie does a good job and he’ll have his guys ready next time.”
Joseph Drummond pitched in eight points and seven rebounds for St. Martin.
Pascagoula will host Laurel at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Panther Classic and St. Martin will travel to Ocean Springs on Friday.
St. Martin girls 60, Pascagoula 51: Senior Octaviuana Oatis scored a game high of 22 points to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 10-6 overall mark and a 1-0 record in region play. Alexis Walker added 13 points.
Iyanna Evans led Pascagoula (2-10, 0-1) with 12 points.