By Hunter Dawkins
The Gazebo Gazette
LONG BEACH — The fast-moving, transition-friendly West Harrison Boys Basketball team found a way to rally after a dismal first period and beat the host, Long Beach High School, 48-31 to earn a spot in the Region 7-5A Championship Friday.
“Our guys are executing a lot of plays that we worked on in practice,” said West Harrison Head Basketball Coach Jeff Norwood. “This time of year everybody is pretty good and it started off hard for us to be focused in the first period, but fortunately we got back in mentally.”
Long Beach (8-16, 2-5) started off the game effectively with a 16-6 run in the first period behind two three-point baskets from Senior Bearcat Vincent Hicks.
The Hurricanes (8-13, 3-3) looked like a different team during the second period, going on a 15-4 run; including nine points from West Harrison Senior Guard Javion Lane. Additionally, ‘Canes Jaxson Screws knocked down a three-point basket for the 21-20 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the gate, the Bearcats could not produce enough to ever take the lead again and the ‘Canes outscored them 27-11 in the second half with a decent crowd.
West Harrison’s Owen Reese was the top scorer on the court with 20 points. Lane contributed 13 points to help the ‘Canes. Hicks was the only player from Long Beach in double figures with 11 points.
Friday’s matchup will see host Long Beach play against Pearl River Central for the consolation prize and to earn a playoff spot. Then, West Harrison will play against Picayune at 7:30 pm for the District 7-5A Championship and a first-round bye in the MHSAA 5A Playoffs.
In the first game of the night, Picayune struggled at times against arch-rival Pearl River Central before pulling out a 56-47 win.
The win was the third straight for the Maroon Tide over the Blue Devils this season.
Picayune was up by 14 points at halftime, before the Blue Devils rallied and went on a 14-4 run to open the second half and cut the deficit to 39-35 late in the third frame.
A key 3-pointer by Picayune’s Josh Holmes helped the Maroon Tide keep PRC at bay, however, and Picayune never let the Blue Devils get any closer than that four-point advantage the rest of the way.
Holmes posted a game-high 19 points to pace Picayue, while Ty Warren added nine points and Naquis Ratcliff added eight points to the winning cause.
Konnor Cazenave and Tyler Penton tallied 14 points apiece to pace PRC while Gregory Ladner chipped in 11 points.
(228Sports Director Curtis Rockwell contributed to this report)