The Pascagoula Panthers stretched their winning streak to seven straight Tuesday night at home with a dominating 54-27 victory over the Harrison Central Red Rebels.
The Panthers, now 7-1, were in such control they allowed the Red Rebels to score only 2 points in the fourth quarter.
In the girls’ game, Harrison Central was equally dominating as they rolled to a 68-35 victory for its eighth win against no defeats.
Pascagoula boys opened the game at a deliberately slow pace and scored the first 9 points before Harrison Central could score its first bucket with 40 seconds left in the period to make it 9-2 at the quarter’s end.
Panthers head coach Lorenzo Wright said his game plan was to be deliberate to keep Harrison Central guard AuJaylen Barron under wraps.
“We wanted to slow down their point guard AuJaylen and also outrun the bigs,” Wright said. “I think we did that pretty well in the first half, then he (AuJaylen) got into foul trouble and I think that helped us extend the lead at halftime.”
Panthers guard Dorian McMillian came out firing in the second quarter making three free throws and two 3-point shots from the left wing. Kelan Rich then took over with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key. By quarter’s end, PHS was comfortably on top 27-13.
The Panthers opened the third quarter with six straight points, increasing their advantage to 33-13. Then the Red Rebels finally began to find range, highlighted by a vicious dunk by Jonathan Pace. That bucket highlighted a 12-2 run to cut the Panthers’ lead to 10 points at 35-25.
“Once they got the dunk to start the run, I thought we did a bad job of adjusting,” Wright said. “In the fourth quarter, we refocused and did a pretty good job closing out the quarter.”
Indeed the Panthers did as they scored 13 straight points before the Red Rebels made their only bucket of the period.
“We were hoping to get the shutout,” Wright said. “I challenged the second group to not let them score and we gave up a 2 on the inbounds. They did a good job though.”
Wright said he’s seen lots of improvement since the Panthers lost their opening game of the season to Madison Central.
“I see us growing up a lot. We needed to focus on learning how to handle the lead and learning how to close out teams,” he said. “We’ve done a bad job in the third quarter of letting teams come back. We did the same thing against Hattiesburg Friday, and Saturday against Zachary.”
The Panthers edged Hattiesburg 55-54 and Zachary 68-55.
Rich topped the Panthers in scoring with 18 points and McMillian, who scored his 1,000th career point last week, added 16. Harrison Central, 4-4, was led in scoring by Jashun McMillan with seven points and Pace with six.
The girls’ game was never in doubt as the Lady Rebels led 20-8 after one quarter
Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said her team despite the big early lead seemed to be off a bit. “I think we played nonchalant,” she said. “We didn’t play the toughest game we’ve played defensive-wise. We were kind of slack. Not that they were taking it lightly. I don’t feel like we played the best intensity game, but they stepped it up when they needed it.”
Lanssa Hubbard and Saniyah Murray led the Lady Rebels in scoring with 20 and 19 points respectively.
Klayliyah Moore paced the Lady Panthers, now 2-4, with 10 points and Kailyn Hyde had eight.