Porters Chapel’s title hopes end in quarterfinals

Published 11:25 am Friday, February 24, 2012

Porters Chapel’s quest for its first basketball title in the MAIS Class A Tournament came to a crashing end at the hands of Claiborne Academy 62-60 on Thursday at Delta Academy.

The Eagles nearly overcame a five point deficit in the final 1:35, but 12 missed free throws and even more missed shots in the paint came back to bite them in the end.

“I’m very disappointed,” PCA coach E.J. Creel said. “I didn’t feel like we played a great game and we were better than what we played tonight. If we’d have made those free throws, we’d have won with a comfortable lead. But I’m proud of their effort.”

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Despite the struggles in the paint and at the charity stripe, PCA (24-6) had a shot to win it late, thanks to the efforts of Ted Brisco, who scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth.

With time winding down and Claiborne clinging to a two-point lead, David Lewis drilled a 3-pointer to put the Rebels in command at 60-55 with just 1:35 remaining.

Brisco drew a foul under the basket and hit two free throws to cut the lead back to three. On the next Claiborne possession, he had a steal and a layup to cut the lead to one.

But Tramel McKinsey got a layup and was fouled for a plus-one opportunity that pushed the advantage back to three.

Brisco converted the front end of a one-plus-one opportunity and gave the Eagles one final shot at the victory with a steal of the inbounds pass with 11 seconds left.

Brisco missed a layup and P.J. Lassiter was short on a putback as time expired.

McKinsey finished with a game-high 24 points to lead Claiborne. Coming into Thursday’s game, Creel knew that he’d be a tough cover. In the first half, the Rebels were able to create some space in the lane for him by knocking down 3-pointers consistently. But in the second half, the Eagles adjusted by bringing help on McKinsey defensively.

But he still finished with 13 points in the second half, much of it coming in the fourth quarter.

“He’s just a sophomore and our goal was just to maintain against him,” Creel said. “There was no way you can stop him. We just tried to put a hand in his face every time he shot a jumper. He’s going to get his points, but I thought P.J. Lassiter did a good job on him.”

Kawayne Gaston added 17 points and Lassiter contributed 13 for PCA.

Lewis added 17 for Claiborne, which advances to tonight’s semifinals.

Even though the Eagles lose center Talbot Buys, Lassiter and Gaston to graduation, Creel hopes that PCA can make the state tournament a regular home for the Eagles.

In the least, the two-year run at the state tournament has changed the perception of PCA as being a football and baseball-centered school.

“I feel like if we’d have been coming to the tournament for five or six years in a row, we would’ve won that ball game,” Creel said. “It’s a different feeling in the tournament, all of the adrenaline, the extra referee, the atmosphere. It’s tough if you’re not used to that. But we’re hoping to make it back and this can do nothing but help us in the long run.”