PURVIS – Despite never holding a lead until the fourth quarter, the Purvis girls’ basketball team rallied for a 56-45 win over Sumrall in a pivotal district matchup on Monday night.
Entering the game, which was a rescheduled after being canceled on Jan. 7, each team posted a 2-2 record in district play with a win putting either team behind second place in the 4A Region 7 standings.
Sumrall opened the game with a 7-0 lead, but the Lady Bobcats could never assert their full dominance. What followed was a pattern of small runs by Purvis. Throughout the night the Lady Bobcats found space to go up by two or three scores. The Lady Tornadoes then managed to answer back with a brief series of plays to reel back Sumrall to a one-score game.
At the start of the game, Sumrall (11-6, 2-3) kept Purvis out of the paint, forced multiple turnovers and held a distinct advantage rebounding.
“Sumrall is a very fundamentally sound team,” Purvis head coach Michael Thornton said. “They shoot the ball very well and they are well-coached. They did a tremendous job on the boards. We hardly got an offensive rebound all night.”
The game’s trend was highlighted best just before halftime. The Lady Bobcats looked to go into the half with a 25-16 lead, but Purvis scored four points just before the half and cut the deficit down to 25-20.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Sumrall held a 41-36 lead over Purvis (19-3, 3-2) but the script changed as the Lady Bobcats faced a defensive collapse
“I was happy] with our defense in the first two-to-three quarters,” Sumrall head coach Portland Brown said. “In the fourth quarter, we just didn’t cover what we were supposed to cover on defense.
“They just scored wide-open shots. Like I said, we didn’t cover what we were supposed to cover. They scored in the quarter with 3-pointers. They knocked them down and got us there.”
According to Thornton, the first half was just another slow start that his team has trended towards. Purvis’ comeback was ignited by Brianna Lowe nailing a pair of 3-pointers that put the Lady Tornados ahead 44-42.
“We have been struggling in the first half of ball games since we have returned from Christmas break but we have played very well in the fourth quarter of games,” Thornton said. “We just have to be more consistent throughout the game. We have been a poor shooting team in the first half in the last six games. We need to cut down on our turnovers and we made a lot of unforced turnovers. The one thing about our girls is that they do not quit. They were able to will themselves into a big division win tonight.”
Purvis outscored Sumrall 20-4 in the fourth quarter and went 8-of-11 behind the free-throw line in the quarter. Elise Jackson had a team-leading 20 points for Purvis while Lowe scored 12 points on the night.
“We didn’t execute when we had the ball, Brown said. “We didn’t cover the girls that we were supposed to cover. It was just like we spaced out. We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do. We just handed them the game.
“The first they led was in the fourth quarter. We gave up wide-open shots. We weren’t playing smart and cover what we weren’t supposed to cover. If you ask me, we just choked.”
Purvis picked up its third win in a row while Sumrall dropped its third. Londyn Robertson led Sumrall with a team-high of 13 points.
“Despite getting down and facing a lot of adversity found a way to win the game tonight and I’m proud of them,” Thornton said. “I think our girls kept fighting, scratching and clawing and just very tenacious. Once we got ahead, we were able to stretch our lead. Shooting free shots in the fourth quarter was big.”
Sumrall will host Poplarville on Tuesday with tipoff at 6 p.m. while Purvis will travel to Salem on Thursday at 6 p.m.
- Photo by Van Tyner