Laurel Christian ends Eagles’ season in South State tournament

Published 9:24 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Like a lot of brutal knockout punches, the one that ended Porter’s Chapel Academy’s boys’ basketball season was one no one saw coming.

The Eagles scored two points in the last four minutes of the game, squandered a nine-point lead, and then watched Laurel Christian pull away at the free throw line.

When the buzzer finally brought an end to it all, PCA walked off the court with a stunning 61-50 loss to Laurel Christian on its home court in an elimination game in the MAIS Class 3A South State tournament.

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Laurel Christian finished the game on a 22-2 run.

“We just didn’t finish at the rim and turned the ball over. That’s why we lost tonight,” PCA coach Casey Fisher said. “You just want to play on and go to the next level. I just hate it for our five seniors to end on their court. My heart goes out to them.”

Porter’s Chapel (13-7) had a 10-point lead at halftime. Laurel Christian got as close as three late in the third quarter, but PCA pulled away again in the fourth. Gavin White drilled a 3-pointer and scored on a putback to give the Eagles a 48-39 lead with 4:08 left.

From then on, Laurel Christian thoroughly dominated.

Thomas Reich and Alex Carmichael sandwiched 3-pointers around a pair of PCA turnovers, and then D.J. White scored under the basket to give the Lions a 52-50 lead with 1:20 remaining. It was their first lead since the second quarter.

Things did not improve once PCA was behind and getting desperate. It missed five consecutive shots in the last two minutes and also committed a turnover. Almost as bad, it kept fouling White and sending him to the free throw line.
White was 9-for-9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, with eight of those in the final minute. He finished with a game-high 27 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter.

Carmichael had eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter as well, and Reich scored all six of his points in that period.

Laurel Christian advanced to play Lamar Christian in the semifinals Friday at 6:30 p.m. The South State tournament is being played at Porter’s Chapel Academy.

“Size has hurt us all year. If a team has got a guy on the inside we just don’t have size,” Fisher said. “We’re fast and we’re quick, but every team we’ve played that has size has given us trouble. (White) showed up tonight and he just beat us on the inside.”

Ty Mack led PCA with 19 points and Taylor Labarre finished with nine. Gavin White, Chase Hearn and Schaffer Bell scored five each.

The Eagles, though, were unable to finish on numerous drives to the hoop throughout the second half in addition to their costly turnovers in crunch time.

“We just didn’t control the basketball when we needed to,” Fisher said. “Maybe I went to the stall too soon, but I’m thinking we’ve got five ball-handlers on the floor and they should be able to handle business. Either get layups or free throws, make them foul us. We just turned the ball over.”

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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