Pascagoula opened its home varsity basketball season Tuesday night by splitting a pair of games with Biloxi, winning the boy’s game 44-40 and dropping the girl’s contest 46-21.
The Pascagoula gym was about three-fourths full and the spectators saw a boy’s game that was scrappy and hard-fought from the opening tip.
Pascagoula fell behind 3-2 in the opening minutes, but when Markuese Grady hit a layup to put the Panthers up 4-3 they never trailed again. The Panther’s largest lead was 17-10 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was a dogfight as both teams’ defenses kept the scoring to a minimum. Pascagoula only scored 5 points in the quarter and went to the locker room leading 22-18.
The Panthers lead remained 4 points after three quarters, 32-28, as the teams continued to struggle offensively. Biloxi finally pulled to within one point at 34-33 with 5:33 left in the game, but the Panthers salted it away by making 8 free throws in the final quarter. Pascagoula head coach Lorenzo Wright described the game as very physical. “I’m exhausted myself and I didn’t even play,” he said. “We knew they were going to be scrappy. Biloxi always plays a hard, physical game. They are going to take charges, do all the little things to stay in the game.
“I thought we had a couple opportunities to break away from them but they would find a way to come back and hang around.”
Biloxi guard Reggie Conner came into the game averaging over 20 points, but he was held to just 4 and all those were free throws.
“We did a good job of slowing him down,” Wright said. “We wanted to make them take the long shots. Try to get long rebounds so we can get breakaway opportunities. That’s why we packed it in.”
Dorian McMillian led Goula, now 3-1, in scoring with 11 points and Kelan Rich added 10. Dayshawn McGee hit 16 points to pace Biloxi, which dropped to 4-2.
The girl’s game was never in doubt as the undefeated Lady Indians, now 8-0, jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to 4 consecutive turnovers by the Lady Panthers. By the end of the half Biloxi was comfortably ahead 27-11 and coasted the rest of the way.
Despite the ease of the victory Biloxi coach Devin Hill wasn’t happy.
“I’m a perfectionist,” he said with a chuckle when asked about his team’s performance. “We’ve been off for a while with the Thanksgiving break. We kind of regrouped and got our legs back under us. We didn’t play well, but we’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day.”
Zaniya Johnson, the Lady Indian’s tall ninth-grade center, scored 12 points and had 3 blocks to lead the scoring. Aaliyah Davison chipped in with 11 points. Pascagoula, now 2-2, didn’t have a double-digit scorer.