Playing with a target on its back, Petal remains unbeatenBy ANDREW ABADIE,
Despite staying unbeaten and improving to 9-0, Petal left the court unsatisfied after its 61-53 win over Picayune (6-5).
“We don’t win by out athleting people and we don’t win by doing the highlight stuff,” Petal Coach Todd Kimble said. “We win by execution and playing harder than the team we played and that didn’t happen tonight.”
Picayune and Petal traded points early in the first half but Petal took a 17-10 lead. However, Picayune went on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 20 but a slam-dunk from Petal’s Caleb McGill sent the Panthers into the half with a 22-20 lead.
“They did exactly what we thought they were going to do,” Kimble said. They picked out who they thought they could dribble penetrate and beat us on the dribble. We played the exact same type team this past Friday night and did a great job defensively. Then we play this team tonight and we look like we have never seen that before.”
Petal kept the momentum after the half and built a 10-point lead at 41-31 and went into the third quarter with a 45-34 lead. The key in breaking away with the lead was McGill’s ability to score inside the paint as he put up nine of his 21 points in the quarter.
“We just started out flat real early,” McGill said. “I thought we had a strong third quarter and that’s something we haven’t had all year, but I mean, you just have to get better because little things, like blocking out, killed us along the way.”
For Kimble, the area of concern is the lack of consistency especially if his team wants to continue to perform at a high level.
“The positive thing is that we are not doing things well consistently,” Kimble said. “I think consistency is probably the biggest thing, but the things we are not doing well we can control. That goes back to how important is that to each individual player to make that a priority when they step on the court every night. I just thought we played flat the whole night. I don’t think we played the way we normally play.”
Like Kimble, McGill finds that the team needs to stay consistent and concentrate on the little things. But now as the team heads further into the season with a perfect record, he has realized how big of a target the Panthers have on their back.
“We knew that coming (into the season). Teams were going to be after us just because of all the media and all the attention we were getting,” McGill said. “Now we see that teams are coming after us, and tonight is a perfect example of this. If we don’t come out with our A-game, we won’t win.”
Picayune girls 38 Petal 34
The Lady Panthers dropped its eighth game in a row after its 38-34 loss to Picayune (4-6).
Petal quickly faced a 7-2 deficit early on but the Lady Panthers went on a 7-2 run to tie the game at 9-9. Picayune hit a jump shot to take an 11-9 lead at the end of the quarter, though.
Each team then found themselves in a defensive battle as the two teams combined for a total of 12 points in the quarter, but the Maroon Tide held a 17-15 lead at the half.
At the start of the second half, Picayune jumped to a 30-21 lead with a 12-3 run. The Lady Panthers crept within three points, at 37-33, as Petal’s Lauryn Myers and Abbey Gallager combined for 13 points between the third and fourth quarters.
Petal began to full court press and was able to draw fouls, but it could not knock down pivotal shots and capitalize on the late momentum.
Myers led the team with 12 points and Gallager finished with nine points.
The Panthers will take on Harrison Central on Dec. 17. Game times are 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.