PCA’s perfect season spoiled with loss in South State championship game

Published 7:19 pm Saturday, February 10, 2024

Porter’s Chapel Academy’s perfect season is over. The rest of its season is not.

The Lady Eagles had their worst offensive game of the season at the wrong time Saturday, and suffered their first loss as a result — 28-13 to Lamar Christian in the MAIS Class 3A South State girls basketball tournament championship game.

“Sometimes sports will give you some humble pie,” PCA coach Casey Fisher said. “We’ve been undefeated all season. I think we’ve made some people feel like this 19 or 20 times this year and we’ve felt it once. It just was at the wrong time for us to feel it.”

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Despite the loss, the Lady Eagles’ (20-1) season will continue next week in the Class 3A state tournament at Lamar Christian. The top four teams from the South and North State tournaments moved on. PCA will face Tunica Academy Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.

“We’re still in it,” Fisher said. “We could still run across these girls again. In our class anybody can beat anybody. We’re going to Hattiesburg and we’re still in it for the state championship. That’s all I can say.”

If they do cross paths with Lamar Christian (28-5) again, the Lady Eagles will certainly need to shoot better than they did Saturday. It won’t be hard.

PCA was a putrid 4-for-38 overall from the field, 1-for-17 from 3-point range, and 4-for-10 at the free throw line.

Leading scorer Jae’la Smith, who is averaging nearly 30 points per game, only scored 10 and Marley Bufkin sank three free throws in the fourth quarter for the rest of the team’s points.

“Just bad offense. We wouldn’t run our offense and the shots weren’t falling. I think it became a mental thing for us. We hadn’t been in that position all year,” Fisher said. “It wasn’t their defense, it was strictly our offense. They scored 28 points and beat us and we’ve got a player that averages 30. Those numbers don’t add up.”

The only thing that kept the game reasonably close was Lamar Christian’s own poor shooting and some sportsmanship.

The Lions only made two field goals in the first 12 minutes of the game, then hit three 3-pointers before halftime to take a double-digit lead that was safe considering PCA’s shooting woes.

Carson Keener had two of the 3-pointers and finished with a team-high eight points. Mady McCrory, who had seven points, hit the other 3-pointer with two seconds left to put the Lions ahead 19-5 at halftime.

Lamar Christian finished on a 13-2 run over the last 4 1/2 minutes. PCA was 2-for-19 shooting in the first half.

With PCA unable to get anything to fall, Lamar Christian was content to dribble and pass the ball around for most of the fourth quarter and bleed the clock out. It only scored two points in the final period, none in the last six minutes.

Fisher was obviously disappointed with the result, but happy that his Lady Eagles will at least get a chance to write it off as a bad day and shake it off by playing next week.

“We couldn’t even make a layup. Basketball is a psychological game. It requires a lot of touch and finesse, and we just couldn’t get it done,” he said. “But we’re still playing.”

MAIS Class 3A Tournament
At Lamar Christian
Tuesday, Feb. 13
West Memphis vs. Lamar Christian, 5:15 p.m.
Tunica Academy vs. Porter’s Chapel, 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 14
River Oaks vs. Desoto School, 4 p.m.
Newton Academy vs. Benton Academy, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16
PCA-Tunica winner vs. River Oaks-Desoto winner, 1 p.m.
Newton-Benton winner vs. West Memphis-Lamar winner, 2:15 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 17
Third-place game, 1 p.m.
Championship game, 2:15 p.m.

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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