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Gentry halts Picayune's magical run 60-47

by Carey Meitzler

The Picayune Maroon Tide's magical run to the Big House ended with a 60-47 loss to the Indianola Gentry Rams mainly due to Gentry's 5 foot 5 inch guard Straddick McDaniel's impersonation of Jeopardy's Alex Trebeck.  McDaniel, who earlier in the week beat Terry with a last second lay up, seemed to have all the answers as he thwarted Picayune's comeback efforts throughout the game.

Picayune jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind two Randy Perkins free throws and a 3 point basket from Chazz Hawkins.  Gentry answered with a jumper from Jestonia Kimber and two 3 pointers from McDaniel to lead 8-7 with 3:15 left in the quarter.

The Maroon Tide came back to lead at the end of the quarter when Hawkins drained another 3 pointer to make it 10-9.

Gentry (34-4) opened the second quarter deploying a half court trap defense that pulled the Maroon Tide into a rhythm that played right into the hands of the athletic Rams and resulted in a 12-2 run ignited by McDaniel who handed out 4 assists during the spurt.

Drummond Jones, a 6-4 post player, had 8 points and Kimber converted two 3 pointers to build a 27-17 half time lead.

Trailing 31-19 early in the third quarter, Picayune's Chazz Hawkins hit another 3 pointer and Perkins scored on a lay up to bring Picayune to within seven points at 31-24, but McDaniel drove the lane, dished the ball to Jones who converted an old fashioned 3 point play with a lay up and subsequent free throw to push the lead back to ten at 34-24 with 3:30 to play.

Picayune closed to within 34-29 behind a Alan Moran 3 pointer and two free throws from Darionne Jones, but McDaniel answered with a lay up and a free throw for a 3 point play and then handed out one of his game high 10 assists to Xaiver Yarbor to push the lead to 39-29.  With 1:01 left in the quarter, the Maroon Tide's Darionne Jones grabbed an errant Ram's pass and went coast to coast for a lay up to cut the lead to 39-31 after three quarters.

During the fourth quarter, Picayune would cut the lead to 41-35 on a lay up by Clydell Jones with just under five minutes left.

But McDaniel answered moments later with a drive in the lane and another assist to Drummond Jones for a lay up and a 43-35 lead with 4:18 to play. Perkins converted a 3 point play with a lay up and free throw to make it 43-38 with 3:43 left.  McDaniel responded by converting two free throws to push it back to 45-38.

With 3:22 left, Picayune cut the lead to five points at 45-40 on two Alan Moran free throws, but the Maroon Tide could get no closer as McDaniel made 7 of 8 free throws in the last two minutes to propel Gentry to the win.

Picayune's Coach Dean Shaw was impressed with McDaniel and the Rams.

"He's a really, really good player. I thought we did a good job in the first quarter, but dug a hole for ourselves in the second quarter and couldn't get out of it.   They (Gentry) had a lot to do with it.  They're a mighty fine basketball team."

McDaniel finished with 20 points and Drummond Jones added 15 points.  Kimber tallied 10 points. 

Perkins led Picayune (27-6) with 15 points and Hawkins had 9 points from his three pointers.  Clydell Jones and Darionne Jones each tallied 8 points for Picayune.  Moran finished with 5 points and Brandon Fortenberry had 2 points.

Gentry will play the winner of Jackson Lanier and New Hope on Thursday, March 9th for the Class 4A championship.