Hattiesburg got its revenge on South Jones after the Braves hit a buzzer-beater against the Tigers in the last meeting between the two region foes.
The Hattiesburg boys turned in one of their best performances of the season after defeating South Jones 74-60 on Friday night at the HHS gym.
"It was big for the simple reason that they upset us at their place," Hattiesburg coach Ernie Watson said. "We didn't play well, and we didn't come with the enthusiasm that we had tonight and the energy. I felt like that if you play with a lot of energy, then a lot of confidence will be found."
From start to finish, Hattiesburg's offense never sputtered and found success in every aspect of the game, from perimeter shooting, driving in the paint, and building momentum on the fast break.
The night's most impressive performance came from Christian Moody, who scored a team-high of 21 points, all of which came from 3-pointers.
"I've been waiting all year for this," Watson said. "I'm just glad that we finally got to see it, especially from (Christian Moody). He finally got loose. I've been waiting on that all year.
"He's a sophomore. We have been trying to get him to do that since the summer. He's just been unconfident about it. Now with the confidence that we have kept putting in him, he has the green light any time he touches it. I think he's gone from a sophomore, not to a junior. He's ready to go."
In the first quarter, each team swapped several 3-pointers, which saw Moody knocking down three shots beyond the arc. The Tigers had a 13-5 lead, but South Jones' Fran Holder nailed three straight 3-pointers to give the Braves a 16-13 lead. Moody hit his third 3-pointer before the end of the first quarter to tie the game at 16-16.
"We had to shut him down," Watson said. "He made those threes, and we just told them that he doesn't shoot it anymore. That was the difference right there. He couldn't make his shots. They couldn't find offense from the 3-point line. That's how they beat us (at South Jones). We tried to take that away as much as we can."
Hattiesburg's game plan worked as the Tigers pulled away in the second quarter by outscoring South Jones 26-10. Holder scored just one more basket for the rest of the night. Hattiesburg (9-9, 2-2) opened the quarter with a 15-5 run to take a 31-21 lead. The run, as well as most of the night, was sparked by Malik Walker and Darrian Johnson.
"If Darrin Johnson plays like he is supposed to, then we are a pretty tough team," Watson said. "He can control the boards and can run the floor. The big fella can dunk it. He really does it all. If he plays like that and Malik plays like that and (Moody) plays like that, then we are pretty tough."
The Tigers went into the half, holding a 42-26 lead. That same momentum carried over in the third quarter, with Hattiesburg building as much as a 24-point lead partly due to Moody hitting three more 3-pointers, which allowed the Tigers the cushion to close the game out.
Walker finished the game at 16 points while Johnson put up 11 points and Stephen McCulloun Jr also tacking on 12 points.
For Watson, Hattiesburg's win reflected his team's full potential and that his main focus is preparing his team for the district tournament, which will come down to two simple factors.
"We have to make sure that we understand our roles of how we guard other teams and how we play the tempo of a game," Watson said. "We want to control all of that, so that's the keys. We want to control the tempo whether it's fast or slow."