Flashes knock off PCA in District 3-AAA tournament

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

RAYMOND — With each shot that clanked off the rim, concern started to grow in the guts of the St. Aloysius Flashes.

They were better, deeper and faster than crosstown rival Porter’s Chapel Academy, yet were allowing the Eagles to stay in the game and gain confidence.

Finally, with one fast flurry, the Flashes were able to relax.

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Braxton Chewning and James Trichell each hit a 3-pointer in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter, keying an 8-0 run that put the Flashes in control after a sluggish first half. They went on to beat PCA 66-52 in the first round of the MAIS District 3-AAA boys basketball tournament.

After trailing early in the game and then leading by only four when the run started, St. Al never led by less than 12 points after it was over.

“We came out slow. We always do that. Later in the game we picked it up. The first quarter we were slow coming out. The third quarter we came out full blast and put the game away,” said St. Al guard Alvin Brown, who led the team with 15 points.

Chewning, Trichell and Trinye Brown all finished with seven points for St. Al (13-8), which advanced to the tournament semifinals Thursday at 5:15 p.m. against Riverfield. It also clinched a berth in the Class AAA South State tournament next week.

Riverfield won both meetings between the teams this season, although both were close games. St. Al coach Eddie Pickle said winning round three was more a matter of fixing a few things than coming up with an entirely new game plan.

“It’s hard to beat somebody three times. But our shots are going to have to drop. If we shoot like we did in the first half tonight, we’re going to be in trouble. We’ve got to be able to hit our outside shots and bring those big boys out a little bit or we’re going to struggle,” Pickle said. “We’ve just got to get a few things to go right that has not gone right so far.”

PCA (8-17) lost twice to St. Al this season, yet proved to be a tough opponent in Tuesday’s elimination game. Luke Yocum led the Eagles with a game-high 18 points, Leon Simms scored 11, and Jake Arias had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.

PCA led 10-8 late in the first quarter before St. Al used its press to force several quick steals that it turned into a 10-0 burst. The Flashes led 20-11 at the end of the quarter, but couldn’t find their shooting stroke and never quite pulled away.

PCA made 14 free throws in the first half, was 24-for-34 in the game, and managed to pull within four points at 33-29 with a basket in the opening moments of the third quarter.

The twin 3-pointers by Chewning and Trichell changed that. They put St. Al ahead 41-29 with 6:25 remaining in the period, and the deflated Eagles never mounted another serious challenge. The lead grew to as many as 20 points midway through the fourth quarter.

“They did exactly what I was telling them they would. They were going to run and gun and try to get us out of position, which they did,” PCA coach Colby Rushing said. “The first half, we were boxing out really well and getting all of the rebounds and then we were just getting out of position on defense. They were taking advantage of our back side defense. They scored a quick couple of points after halftime and got up on us, and you can’t let a good team like that do that to you. It just got out of hand after that. You’re down six at halftime, and then you look up two minutes later and you’re down by 17 or 18. It takes the wind out of you.”

The loss ended PCA’s season. It did not win a district game, but Rushing said he was pleased with his players’ effort all year nonetheless. Even when Tuesday’s game got out of hand, the Eagles never let the margin get too much bigger than what it was after the second-half run.

“I’ve been happy with their effort all year long. That’s never been a problem at all,” Rushing said. “Every game we’ve won or lost, we’ve played really well effort-wise. Even when we were getting blown out we were still playing hard, and that’s what I love about this team.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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