Pass Christian High School Power Forward Xavian Chamberlain (#4) makes the game-winning layup as the Pirates defeated Picayune on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins

As the unconventional 2020 basketball season begins, the Pass Christian High School program won four games over the week before the Thanksgiving break.  Surprisingly, the Lady Pirates (3-3) easily won games against larger opponents; Picayune and West Harrison, while the undefeated boys (6-0) persevered over the same teams in the last minute of each contest.

“We definitely got off to a slow start, we’re down two starters that had been doing most of the scoring,” said Pass Christian Head Girls Basketball Coach Greta Ainsworth.  “We’ve had to come together and it definitely has been a team effort.”

“I thought we played hard in both games and we guarded well defensively, but we have struggled putting the ball in the goal,” expressed Pass Christian Head Boys Basketball Coach Wayne “Buddy” Kennedy.  “Some of the turnovers that we’ve had are not characteristic of us, but I thought we’ve played with a lot of mental toughness and effort.”

Pass Christian High School Boys Basketball Coach Wayne “Buddy” Kennedy discussing strategy during a timeout against Picayune Memorial High School on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Game 1 Girls:  Pass Christian over Picayune 44-9

Despite trailing 3-2 at the end of the first period at the home gymnasium, the Lady Pirates went on an 8-0 run in the next five minutes of the second and ended the half with a 16-8 lead.

Pass Christian would only allow one point the rest of the game and no field goals from the Lady Maroon Tide in the second half.  The Lady Pirates finished the third period on an 18-0 run with three-point baskets coming from Pass Christian Senior Guards Shaunacey Valdez and Kallie Wilson.

Pass Christian High School Guard Kallie Wilson (#15) dribbles to the perimeter against the Picayune Memorial High School on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Even with a lopsided 44-9 victory, ten players scored and no one had more than seven points.  Wilson finished with seven points.

Game 1 Boys:  Pass Christian over Picayune 35-33

Pass Christian High School Forward Montrel McGowan (#22) grabs a rebound against the Picayune Memorial High School on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

If defense, press and fast ball movement were what you wanted to see, this game was worth it.  Mishaps and turnovers led the first half, as the Picayune Maroon Tide went on a 12-4 run and the halftime score being 16-10.

Inching close during the third period, Pass High pulled in quite a bit of offensive rebounds from Forward Xavian Chamberlain outscoring the Maroon Tide 10-9, but still trailing 25-20.

“It’s hard to play from behind the whole game and continue to have the mental toughness,” stated Kennedy.  “This was Xavian’s first game starting and he brings so much energy to the floor.”

Staying in the game, the Pirates finally took the lead at a minute remaining only to have Picayune tie the ball game 33-33 with nine seconds left.

Chamberlain took advantage of the post, grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back to secure the win 35-33 at home.  He finished with 20 points.

Game 2 Girls:  Pass Christian over West Harrison 61-19

Pass Christian Forward Ariana Crimm (#1) shoots a jumpshot against West Harrison High School on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

The Lady Pirates jumped all over West Harrison throughout this contest, especially during the first period.  After Pass Christian Senior Valdez knocked down a three-point basket, the Lady Pirates went on a 9-0 run until the end of the period with the Lady Hurricanes Taylor Hopgood making a quick field goal.

Second period wasn’t much better for former Pass Christian Girls Head Basketball Coach; now West Harrison Girls Basketball Coach Otis Gates as the Lady Pirates went on a 17-5 run.  Three 3-point baskets were the highlights of this period from Rayven Obillo, Valdez, and Kelsie Malley.

Pouring it on in the second half, the Lady Pirates outscored West Harrison 35-12 to win the contest at the Lady Hurricanes Gymnasium in Gulfport 61-19.

Obillo and Malley finished with 10 points each and had two three-point baskets between them.  The Lady Pirates will play the perennial powerhouse Harrison Central Lady Red Rebels on Tuesday, November 24 in Lyman.

Game 2 Boys:  Pass Christian over West Harrison 55-52

Pass Christian High School Center Darion Lee (#00) hooks a shot over West Harrison High School D’Marion Shaffer (#4) on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

Against a higher classification for the second time during the week, the Pass Christian Pirates went a different route for their contest at West Harrison High School Gymnasium Friday night in Gulfport.

Jumping on a 16-4 lead at the end of the first period, the Pirates controlled the ball and the clock for most of the half.  A minor charity stripe (free throw) problem occurred for Pass High before the half; going 4-9, and letting the West Harrison Hurricanes cut the lead to 27-18.

West Harrison Guard Zarius Gill knocked down three field goals and a three-point play before the half to highlight the Hurricane surge.

Pass Christian lost a bit of momentum coming out of the gates, only finishing with four made field goals and missing another group of free throws during the third period.  West Harrison cut the Pirates lead to 39-38 and the press defense.

Pass Christian Guard Kameron White (#2) dribbles past West Harrison Guard Zarius Gill (#1) on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

As his play has been a little quiet most of the first few games, Pass High’s playmaking guard Kameron White took control of the game and took advantage of the free throw line.

Even though the Hurricanes tied the basketball game for the first time with under 2 minutes remaining, White hit eight free throws in a row, which helped secure the victory for the Pass Christian Pirates 55-52.

Pass Christian’s Xavian Chamberlain tied for the lead on the floor again with 14 points.  Additionally, the Pirates players White, Darlon Lee, and Dillon Woods all finished with double digits in scoring.

West Harrison was lead by Senior Guard Josiah Khan; who tied for 14 points, while Gill had 13 points.