PURVIS – For the first time since 2017, Purvis defeated Sumrall on the hardwood by a score of 66-33 Monday night.
“That’s been two years coming,” Purvis head coach Eric Cooper said. “Two hard-fought years for us. We got so close in the past but tonight we were finally able to take that next step over. It was a big win for the Purvis boys’ program.”
For Cooper, now in his third year leading the Tornadoes basketball program, the win was an illustration of the team’s successful season thus as well as the team’s culture. The Purvis culture, Cooper explained, is for anyone on the team to be able to have a successful night and not have to depend on just one or two players.
The best example was just before halftime. With Purvis hanging on to a narrow 23-19 lead and senior Trell Camp headed to the free throw line for two shots, he made the first one and missed the second one, but junior Gabe Young grabbed a rebound and created a 3-point play that kickstarted a 10-0 run before the half that featured four different players scoring. With that newfound momentum, the Tornadoes never looked back and outscored Sumrall 25-9 in the third quarter to cruise for a win.
“Tonight, I thought we started off real slow,” Cooper said. “In the first half, we started playing around a little bit trying to take the next step but finally when it’s a 23-19, it just exploded from there. I think ended the game on a 43-14 run. That right there is huge for us because we are not used to going on runs at that level.”
By the end of the night, 11 of Purvis’ 13-man roster scored. Camp led the Tornados with 18 points while Young scored 10.
“Everybody who stepped foot on that floor tonight I was extremely proud of,” Cooper said. “That’s one thing that we were trying to preach all year long. It’s not just one guy or two guys. If you look, we have had a different leading scorer every night. I don’t look at who had the most, but I look to see if everyone has got points. If they do, then it’s a balanced night because [then it’s a matter of] who’s it going to be tonight.
“This year it has just finally clicked. They just bought into what we were trying to tell them and this year they actually realized that we won a game and then another. It has been just like a rollercoaster effect; we just took off and kept building steam. It’s just really special this year. I think it has a lot to do with our senior leadership this year. These guys have been with me for the past two years with it being my third year here. They have finally got all together and lead the team in the right direction.
As for Sumrall (4-11, 0-5), the night was a depiction of a frustrating season as the Bobcats dropped their third straight game.
“[Purvis] wanted it more,” Sumrall head coach David Bush said. “It was obvious. We had been struggling and haven’t been playing well out of the gate. We have a lot of young kids and were struggling a little bit with confidence right now. When that’s the case and you go on the road. You can’t just turn the ball over like we did. I call them two-point turnovers because they are converted automatically on the other end. I think we had 15 turnovers at the half. I would assume that probably doubled. When you can’t force turnovers when we are turning it over that much then you are not going to beat anyone.”
The Bobcats never held a lead the entire night. According to Bush, the team’s lack of experience has played a critical experience in both the game as well as the team’s season.
“The first quarter we executed, and we did what we are supposed to do,” Bush said. “They started in a man-to-man defense and we pounded it down inside the first two or three trips with layups. Then they went to a [zone defense] and we don’t shoot the ball very well. These young guys lose their patience against the zone. They don’t want to make three or four passes they want to make the quick shot. They basically sat in either a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 zone the whole second, third and fourth quarters. If they are going to do that then you have to make outside shots. I don’t think we made one 3-pointer the entire game and [Purvis] was firing them up left and right.
“They are young and it’s a learning process. Sometimes you have to take them in the chin and that’s what we did tonight.”
Sumrall was led by Patrick Williams who totaled eight points on the night. Notably, the team did make one 3-pointer in its loss.
Purvis now finds itself a game behind first place in the 4A Region 7 standings behind Forrest County AHS, which is undefeated in regional play. The Tornadoes will face Stone on Friday in a battle for the sole possession of second place but must first travel to 1A Salem (5-11, 1-3) on Thursday with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.
Sumrall will return to action with a home game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Poplarville (1-12, 1-4).
- Photo by Van Tyner