Lady Tornadoes accomplish milestone win; Purvis' Cooper remains optimisticBy ANDREW ABADIE,
PURVIS – It’s been 11 seasons and 18 matchups since last time the Purvis Lady Tornadoes basketball team defeated Forrest County AHS, or much less had a winning season.
“It’s the first time that Purvis has beaten Forrest County in at least a dozen years,” Purvis coach Michael Thornton said. “So this a big win for the girls tonight, and this win tonight.”
Dating back to 2007, Purvis’ program record is 62-200, but with the 57-42 Tuesday night win over FCAHS, it is the first of several goals that the Lady Tornados have set for themselves this season.
“It’s been over a dozen years since Purvis has had a winning record,” Thornton said. “We’ve been close the last two years. That’s one of the girls’ goals this year, is to have a winning record and make the playoffs. We have a lot of work to do but they have been working really hard.”
After a 13-11 first quarter, Purvis broke out a 9-3 lead that gave the Lady Tornadoes a comfortable lead that they held for most the game. At the helm was junior Bree Lowe, who finished the night with 14 points and 13 rebounds while freshman Elise Jackson finished with 16 points. Lowe averaged a double-double this season and Jackson averaged nine points entering the game.
“Bree is a very physical player,” Thornton said. “She plays hard. She’s very strong and she has just worked her way to be a good player.”
The team has no seniors and starts two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen. Lowe says that Thornton’s message has been clear and key as to how the team overcomes their youth.
“Coach says just work hard and everything,” Lowe said. “Do your best and let your teammates help you out. We’re a close group.”
Trailing 46-30 in the fourth quarter, FCAHS made a push to get back into it. The Aggies went on a 10-3 run with a full-court press to cut the game to single digits for the time in the half at 49-40.
“That was a good point where we did not fold under the pressure right there,” Thornton said. “The momentum was against us when they cut it to single digits, and getting a couple of fast-break baskets lets us be able to spread our leads a little bit and finish the game strong.”
Purvis collected itself and found success with its fast break to close the game with an 8-2 run to seal the win.
Looking ahead, Purvis will play Lumberton next on Friday. However, to continue to be successful, Thornton says that the team will need to continue to grow in maturity and have it reflect on the court going forward.
“We have an opportunity to win as many games before Christmas as we did last year,” Thornton said. “I think the key for us is that we have to develop better ball handling as a team. That’s our weakness right now. We make too many turnovers. We make questionable decisions with the ball. Hopefully, maturity and experience will enable us to correct those errors.”
FCAHS 68, Purvis 55
Purvis had a five-game win streak snapped in a 68-55 loss Forrest County Agricultural on Tuesday.
FCAHS (7-3, 1-0 in Region 7-4A) quickly pulled away at end of the first quarter with a 9-2 run that forced Purvis (5-3, 1-0) to play catch up for the rest of the night at 19-12.
FCAHS offense was hard to overcome with the duo of junior Ashton Campbell and senior Keegan Odom. Throughout the night either Campbell or Odom stole Purvis’ momentum with either a pull-up 3-pointer or a layup in a well-defended area in the Tornadoes’ paint. Campbell finished the night with 28 points and Odom totaled 19 points.
“Credit to (FCAHS), they have an outstanding offense,” Cooper said. “Awesome point guard. I give them all the credit tonight. They have guys that can flat out shoot but I always knew that if we could close out and just keep digging and find that grip that we’d be ok.”
Several times Purvis managed to close the game within single digits but the Aggies were able to hit a timely shot that killed the Tornadoes’ momentum.
“We just knew that we had to keep it out of the point guards hand because he is the one that really makes the team flow and unfortunately they started penetrating and kicking,” Cooper said. “There was nothing we could do out there because they were knocking down shots.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Purvis went on an 8-1 run to close the game at 53-43. Purvis senior Damon Morgan and junior Tyler Garrison each finished the game with 14 points. Each player played a crucial role in Purvis’ attempted comeback in the fourth quarter. However, the efforts led by either Campbell or Odom shut down any hope of a comeback for Purvis as Aggies closed the game out with a 12-5 run.
Despite the loss, Purvis is off to a better start compared to last season, which is why Cooper remained optimistic after the game.
“I really think this year could be something really special for Purvis basketball,” Cooper said. “I really do. Last year at this time we had one win. This year we already have five so I think this year the guys are buying in; the culture is changing and I really think we can build off something like this that we can use as a teaching tool to help us get to where we want to be.”
Cooper also said that even though the game was a loss that it will become not only a valuable learning tool for his team but also show that Purvis is becoming an upcoming basketball program.
“For many years, Purvis has not been known as a basketball school its always football and baseball, and we said that if we can play a team that is really, really good and stick with them that people would start believing in us,” Cooper said. “I believe the guys are seeing that now. We can hang with those really good teams and Forrest County is a great team. We respect them. We look forward to playing another tough game with them, but I really think that this is going to be a momentum change for us to help us get better and better.”