by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

Similarly to last week in a matchup between “the battle of exit 28” interstate teams from Long Beach and West Harrison High Schools, the game results were split between both basketball teams.  The difference was the West Harrison Lady Hurricanes beat Long Beach Girls 36-30 while the Bearcat boys won a crucial game 50-41 from the home court.

“We talked about starting off fast offensively and we jumped out 13-3,” stated Long Beach Boys Head Basketball Coach Nick Coln, following the first consecutive winning streak of the season.  “We did a great job of balancing the offense and defense out before it became a dogfight at the end.”

GIRLS:  West Harrison 36 Long Beach 30

The defensive fight began early as neither team scored for the first few minutes of the contest plus no converted free throws in the first half.  Despite the offensive struggle and an early 6-5 deficit in the first period, the Lady ‘Canes took a slim 13-10 lead at the half.

Both found a little production during the third with West Harrison (9-12, 3-1) knocking down two three point baskets and Long Beach (7-13, 3-1) Guard Caiya Brown made three long field goals.  At the end of the third, the Lady ‘Canes still had a 27-24 lead.

Coming down to the last period, West Harrison took care of two long treys from the Lady Hurricanes Senior Guards Alicia Arnold and Denaisia Jasper to finish a 9-6 run.  A three-point play from West Harrison’s Madison Collins and Lady Bearcats going 1-6 from the free throw line during the fourth sealed the victory for the Lady Hurricanes 36-30.

Six different players scored for West Harrison, but were led by Arnold with 10 points.  Long Beach’s Brown scored 14 points in their first district loss of the season.

BOYS:  Long Beach 50 West Harrison 41

Unlike the girls, the Long Beach boys took the lead early and held on throughout the game.  Converting 22 out of 28 free throws, the Bearcats scored the most points (3-21, 2-2) they have all season.

“We talked at halftime about finishing and we came out to establish the game,” said Coln, in his second season with the Bearcats.  “We made a few players that young guys normally make and guys that don’t know how to win yet.”

Jumping out of the locker room, the Bearcats went on a quick 11-3 first period run, funneled by Long Beach Guard Zach Hodge’s 5 points and numerous rebounds.  West Harrison woke up offensively during the second period, cutting the Bearcats lead 17-14 at the half.

Long Beach kept the tempo rolling with the ‘Canes beginning to press on defense and the Bearcats converted all six free throws after being fouled.  West Harrison failed to get any significant run during the final two periods and the Bearcats outscored them 23-17.

The final period proved to the most physical part of the game with twenty free throws for both teams, but this worked out in the Bearcats favor.  Despite the press and trap defensive calls, Long Beach outpaced West Harrison 21-17 and secured the 50-41 victory.

Seven different players scored for Long Beach, but the Bearcats were led by Kevonta Preston with 15 points while Christian Spencer had 10.  West Harrison’s Jaxon Screws finished with 12 points and Javon McCaleb scored 11.

Long Beach basketball teams host Poplarville in a non-district game Tuesday night while West Harrison will play district-rival Picayune Memorial High School that night starting at 6pm in Gulfport.