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Eagles ousted in tourney opener

TALLULAH The only thing the Porters Chapel Academy Eagles couldn’t miss Monday night was the sight of their shots clanging off the rim and the feeling of an opportunity wasted.

PCA shot only 23 percent from the field in the first half, and 37 percent for the game, and lost 49-40 to Greenville Christian in the first round of the Conference 5-A tournament at Tallulah Academy. PCA finished its season with a 10-17 record.

“The first half, we flat out missed too many shots. We’d have been up by I don’t know how many if we had hit our shots,” said PCA senior Joseph Ivey, who had a game-high 15 points but was 0-for-10 from the floor in the first half. “We were getting wide-open shots, and just missed them.”

The Eagles weren’t alone in their shooting misery. Greenville Christian (19-9) was just 6-for-17 in the first half, allowing PCA to stay in the game.

Greenville led 18-11 at halftime, and increased the lead to 28-16 with 3:45 to play in the third quarter. PCA used a 7-0 run to cut it to 28-23 with under two minutes to play in the period, and trailed by six points in the closing seconds when Greenville’s J.R. Love banked in a 3-pointer. The shot at the buzzer put Greenville ahead 34-25.

“It was big because they had the momentum going,” Greenville coach Jason Greer said. “We had set up a play for Brett (Lee) and we got kind of discombobulated. The shot was there and J.R. took it.”

PCA made several runs in the fourth quarter, getting within five points on several occasions, but each time missed shots and turnovers ended its momentum.

Ivey converted a 3-point play and Chip Lofton sank an off-balance, one-handed 8-footer to cut it to 45-40 with 2:02 to play. The Eagles went cold in the final minutes, however, and Greenville was able to hang on.

“We cut it to three and had balls going right through our hands. Unforced turnovers and missed free throws were the story of that game,” PCA coach Kevin Griffin said.

Lofton finished with 9 nine points and five steals for PCA, while Josh Dill led Greenville with 12 points. Rob Thornton added 10 points for the Saints, and Brett Lee had eight points and nine rebounds.

(G) PCA 73, Briarfield 24

One of Griffin’s goals for his coaching career was to get his 100th varsity victory by the time he turned 33. Thanks to the Porters Chapel Lady Eagles, he got there a little early.

PCA took control of the game with a 16-4 run in the first quarter and was never threatened in a rout of Briarfield in the first round of the Conference 5-A tournament.

It was the third time PCA had beaten Briarfield (2-19) by at least 40 points this season, and it was the 100th career win for the 29-year-old Griffin.

“That was a big milestone for me,” Griffin said. “When I got into coaching, I hoped to have my 100th win by the time I was 32 or 33 years old, and fortunately I was able to get into coaching at a young age and get it done at 29.”

Brady Willis scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the first half for PCA, which jumped out to a 41-16 halftime lead. After Briarfield tied the game at 2-2 on a pair of free throws, the Lady Eagles went on the 16-4 run and never looked back.

Briarfield went on a 6-0 run just before halftime, but never threatened to get back in the game. The Lady Rebels scored only eight points in the entire second half.

“We wanted to go ahead and try and put them away quick so we could rest some of our people who were under the weather,” Griffin said.

Carleigh Smith led Briarfield with eight points and eight rebounds. Brittany White had 10 points for PCA, while Annie Beaugh and Brittany Willis each chipped in eight and Courtney Angel had 11 off the bench.

The Lady Eagles assured themselves of a spot in the South State tournament with the win, and will face the winner of tonight’s game between Humphreys and Franklin in the second round of the Conference 5-A tournament on Friday at 4 p.m.