Jackson Academy takes two from PCS Friday


HATTIESBURG – Jackson Academy’s comeback from a first-half deficit can be summed up by one play.

Midway through the third quarter while JA was on a long run that saw it regain the lead from PCS, sophomore TJ Montgomery lobbed up a pass from midcourt to senior Michael Barber. When Barber went up to finish the alley-oop, the ball swooshed through for an unorthodox 3-pointer.   

That push the lead the Raiders’ lead to 28-23 midway through a 12-0 JA run to open the second half, and JA held off the PCS Bobcats 51-41.

“Physicality,” PCS coach Josh Dorman said of the reason why Jackson Academy went on the long run. “They just came out (of halftime) motivated, they were much more physical than we were and their physicality, we didn’t respond to it well.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos of the Bobcats’ loss to JA from Matt Bush

However, it wasn’t all Jackson Academy the entire game. PCS began the night red hot thanks to a quick start from senior Otoniel Duran. He scored eight of his nine points in the opening frame to get the Bobcats started on the right foot.

After Jackson Academy had the 4-2 lead to start the game, it was all PCS for the rest of the quarter. The Bobcats used a 7-0 run to grab a 10-4 advantage, then scored the final five points to take a 15-6 lead.

Duran scored the first five points for PCS, then added an old-fashion 3-point play late in the quarter.

“We got off to a really good start,” Dorman said. “The guys executed and we did what we wanted to do there. Unfortunately, we just didn’t sustain it.”

In the second, however, Jackson Academy began to wake up. Barber, who scored four points in the first quarter, tallied seven in the second quarter to help cut the PCS lead to 23-18 by halftime.

Barber finished with a game-high 25 points. His scoring came in flurries, but ultimately helped finish off the Bobcats with eight fourth-quarter points.

“When you look back at it, (Barber) had some nice plays in there, but it was really more about us,” Dorman said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do at the end of the day.”

Barber was the subject of two PCS technical fouls in the second half, too, as frustration from Barber’s play boiled over for a couple of Bobcat players. Duran and senior Braxton Henley were the two hit with technical fouls.

PCS began the fourth quarter in a 37-30 hole, but Henley did everything possible to bring his team back. Of his team-high 14 points, six of those points came while trying to lead the comeback.

He made a nice spin move to cut the JA lead to 40-33 then promptly made a big steal on JA’s next possession. After back-to-back baskets by Henley to cut the Raiders’ lead to 44-39, he took a charge to give PCS the ball back.

In the end, JA made enough free throws and forced the Bobcats to turn the ball over to close out the contest.

Jackson Academy girls 44, PCS 34: After a close first half, Jackson Academy began to pull away in the third quarter with a 6-0 run followed by a 7-0 run. In all, the Lady Raiders scored 13 of the game’s 15 points during those two runs, which push their lead to 34-20.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for a Matt Bush gallery of the Lady Bobcats’ game

The Lady Bobcats fell into an early 6-0 deficit, but they quickly scored the next seven points to take their only lead 7-6. JA’s Camille Couey hit a shot just before the first quarter ended to regain the lead.

Each team used a slow pace in the opening frame, but according to PCS coach Matthew Lofton, that wasn’t necessarily the game plan.

“Not really,” Lofton said when asked if the start of the game went status quo. “I think both teams respect each other so much and they do such a good job of preparation that good shots are really hard to find. They’re so good, that if you don’t value every possession, they’re going to blow you out. We knew coming in we had to get good shots, and likewise for them.”

In the second quarter, Jackson Academy made its first two shots to extend the lead to 13-7, then the two went back and forth to bring the game to a 19-15 JA advantage at the halfway point.

After PCS cut the JA lead to 21-18 early in the third, the Lady Raiders made their run to grab control of the game, as JA’s Erin Hederman scored seven of the teams 13 points during the 13-2 run.

Prior to JA’s run, Lofton thought his team was ready to take advantage of the “gigantic” moment. Despite the result, he still believes his team is ready to see the gains the Lady Bobcats have earned so far this season.

“We’ve won some big games with this group, but we haven’t won a gigantic game yet,” Lofton said. “It’s time for us to have a breakthrough, gigantic win, and the reason is because we’re a good team, but the biggest reason is these girls have played so hard. I think when you play hard, you’re just kind of waiting for that end of the rainbow reward and we haven’t gotten it yet.”

In the final frame, Jillian Rhian’s third 3-pointer of the game and a Kailee Swindle layup cut the Lady Raiders’ lead to 36-31, but eight straight points by the visitors put the game on ice.

PCS is back in action Saturday at home with games against Sacred Heart. The Lady Bobcats start at 4 p.m. and the boys will follow at 5:30 p.m.