Petal basketball tops Hattiesburg

By CAMAL PETRO,

Some of the Pine Belt’s best basketball players met on the court Tuesday night as Petal and Hattiesburg collided. Petal’s Treylan Smith and Caleb McGill, and Hattiesburg’s Cameron Brown combined for 85 points in the affair as Petal came away with an 86-75 win over Hattiesburg.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from the boys' game. 

“All the years I’ve been coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever had a team [Hattiesburg] shoot the basketball like that,” Petal coach Todd Kimble said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click for photos from the girls' game.

“It was back and forth,” Hattiesburg coach Ernie Watson said. “Our interior defense wasn’t very good tonight and they have two players that are very good in the interior. Hats off to Petal, they shot the ball well. They wore us out on the inside.”

Petal jumped out to an 8-0 lead but Hattiesburg quickly fought back into the game despite being down by 12 points. Hattiesburg went on a 14-3 run to take its first lead of the night at 20-19.

Hattiesburg kept the momentum heading into the second quarter with the help of Brown. After being scoreless in the first quarter, Brown put up 16 of his 39 points in the second quarter. Brown quickly developed hot hands as he drained four 3-pointers to help give Hattiesburg a 47-46 lead at halftime

Each team had back-and-forth runs with Petal attempting to pull away. Through Brown’s effort, Hattiesburg tried to spark runs to tie the game.

“That’s what he’s supposed to do,” Watson said. “It’s not expected for him to do any less, so we need him to do that and we have to have somebody to come along with him. It is a quality of his leadership and me telling him don’t let us lose.”

For Petal, Smith’s 28 points and McGill’s 18 points proved to be a one-two punch that was hard for the Hattiesburg defense to handle, as they were able to drive in the paint, kick out 3-point shots or draw fouls. 

“I think we got in the right places at the right time,” Kimble said. “We ran some sets and got some good looks and knocked those shots down. I thought we got a little sloppy at times. I mean as far as our game plan, the biggest thing we tried to do was keep them off the offensive glass. That was the big thing.”

Petal held a 63-59 lead at the end of the third quarter but a 5-0 run put the Tigers up 65-63 at the start of the fourth quarter. Again, the Panthers battled back to take a 72-67 lead. However, Brown knocked down his sixth 3-pointer and hit a slam-dunk late in the quarter to reel the Tigers to within two points at 77-75.

Yet, McGill and Smith’s effort helped the Panthers close the game out with a 9-0 run to finish the game.

“Those two guys are good athletes [and] they are big kids [that] are athletic,” Kimble said. “They have a high basketball IQ. They know where the ball is supposed to be. Defensively I thought we did a decent job and they’re still making shots. When teams are making shots, you have to figure out some kind of way to win. It’s a team effort.”

Despite being proud of his team’s effort and competitiveness, for Watson, his biggest critique of the team was his defense.

“We just have to protect the rim better,” Watson said. “They drove on us. They got offensive rebounds [and] put-backs. A lot of easy baskets towards the end. If you look at the stats, the kid who was shooting the three that wasn’t hurting us, it was those interior rebounds and going back up and getting fouled. That was more detrimental than anything because it fouled our kid out; that was the hardest part.”

For both coaches, each know that the season is early, and for Petal the schedule becomes more difficult despite being undefeated at 6-0.

“Every team on our schedule is capable of beating us,” Kimble said. “And we still have a lot to get done. That’s the thing I keep trying to tell our guys is that we’re not there yet, we’re not even close to being there yet. There’s a lot of little things that we can still control and as hard as they work, they see that and they understand that. They continue to work and that’s the motivation for them to keep going.”

Hattiesburg (5-3) recently just added its football players back to its roster, but for Watson, the regular season is just the preparation time for February.

“It’s a long way,” Watson said. “We don’t worry about any of these games until February. That division tournament, that’s your second chance. You can be 0 and whatever but that’s your second chance, so the second week of February that’s when we get ready.”

Petal will next play Wayne County next at home Thursday, while Hattiesburg will go on the road to play North Forrest Thursday.