PCA wins, advances in basketball tourney

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FLOWOOD — It was far from Porters Chapel’s best effort this season, but it was enough to earn its most important victory.

The Eagles overcame a plodding first half with a dominant third quarter Tuesday night and went on to beat Russell Christian 43-25 in the first round of the District 5-A tournament. With the victory, PCA advanced to face either Newton Academy or Rebul on Friday and clinched a spot in the MAIS Class A South Central State tournament for the first time since 2008.

“It feels good. This win was big. We needed this win to get our confidence back,” said PCA guard Matthew Warren, a three-year starter. “It feels pretty good, knowing we have the talent to go on. We can play for the state tournament.”

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Talbot Buys led PCA (11-6) with 10 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Ted Brisco added nine points and seven rebounds, while Tyler Bolden led Russell (4-19) with seven points.

PCA led 16-4 at the end of the first quarter, but lost some of its momentum in the second. A string of bad shots and poor decisions, combined with a lethargic pace allowed Russell to stay within striking distance and the margin stood at nine points heading into halftime.

Finally, in the third quarter, the Eagles took control. Brisco and Warren each hit a 3-pointer to key a 12-0 run that pushed PCA’s lead to 37-16 with three minutes to play.

“I think we just got cocky. Then we figured out at halftime that we had to come out and play, and started playing better,” said Warren, who finished with eight points.

Russell didn’t score in the second half until Joseph Spurlock split a pair of free throws with 2:11 left in the third quarter, and didn’t hit a field goal until Zac Harper’s floater fell in the opening minute of the fourth. The Warriors went 0-for-16 from the field and only scored one point in the third quarter.

PCA also struggled to get in a rhythm. It shot just 33 percent from the field for the game. Coach E.J. Creel attributed some of that to rust from a 10-day layoff since the Eagles’ last game.

“It was a win. We’ll take it, but it was very ugly,” Creel said. “We had a week off and we don’t do well with breaks.”