by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

Defense was a top priority for the Long Beach Bearcats basketball teams on Tuesday night’s game against the district 7-5A rival Pearl River Central Blue Devils.  Both Bearcats squad held firm, as the Long Beach girls won 36-19 and the boys earned a 34-30 victory at home.

“We played a really good defensive game,” expressed Long Beach High School Boys Coach Nick Coln in his second season.  “Played hard for four quarters and finally finished.”

“We picked up our defensive intensity in the second half,” stated Long Beach High School Girls Coach Chris Odom.  “We pulled away winning the second half 24-8 and this game put us in sole possession of first place in the district.”

GIRLS:  Long Beach 36 Pearl River Central 19

The Lady Bearcats (7-13, 3-0) began the game slowly, not finding many open shots and trailing Pearl River Central 9-7 at the end of the first period.  Fortunately for Long Beach, they would only allow ten points for the rest of the game.

Only two players knocked down field goals in the second quarter for Long Beach while holding the Lady Blue Devils to only one bucket and a slim 12-11 Lady Bearcat lead at the half.

Long Beach went on a 10-2 run during the third period followed by a 14-6 run to finish and a convincing 36-19 victory.

Caiya Brown led the Lady Bearcats and the floor with 11 points; including three 3 point baskets.  Kenyah Lacour paced Long Beach with 10 points.

BOYS:  Long Beach 34 Pearl River Central 30

Like the girls, the Long Beach Boys (2-21, 1-2) could not find an open basket from any distance in the first period.  Luckily for them, neither could Pearl River Central.

At the end of the first period, a tied “baseball” score of 2-2 and an 11-8 Blue Devils lead at the half.

The switching sides of the court after the half fortunately worked for the Bearcats as they found open offensive shots and made the baskets for a 26-19 surge to earn their first district victory of the season.

Long Beach converted eight out of ten free throws in the second half while Bearcats Center Nate Richardson scored four field goals in the paint during the fourth period.

“It was one of our worst offensive nights of the year,” said Coln.  “But we fought through it and found a way to win and we’re in a three-way tie for second in the district.”

Bearcats Forward Kevonta Preston led the Bearcats with 16 points; including four consecutive free throws.

Both Long Beach basketball teams host “cross-interstate,” district rival West Harrison starting at 6pm.