• 79°

Lawrence Co. splits with North Pike

DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Lawrence County's Latasha Rhodes (23) drives in for a layup as North Pike's defender Ambreinna Brown (20) hustles back to deny the attempt Friday night.

DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Lawrence County’s Latasha Rhodes (23) drives in for a layup as North Pike’s defender Ambreinna Brown (20) hustles back to deny the attempt Friday night.

MONTICELLO – Lawrence County and North Pike split a varsity basketball double-header Friday in the final night of regular season Division 7-4A basketball action. In girls’ action, Lance Golmon’s Lady Jaguars completed a 10-0 division season with a 71-46 handling of Vicki Rutland’s Lady Cougars.

With the North Pike girls having already clinched the top seed in the division tournament, and with the Lawrence County girls locked into third place, the real drama Friday night was in the boys’ game, with LCHS and North Pike in a head-to-head battle for second place and the number two tournament seed. The game went down to the wire, with Lawrence County pulling out a 55-51 victory.

With that win, Pat Bridges’ Cougars not only secured a first-round tournament bye and a semi-final berth, but also an automatic bid into the 4A South State playoffs. At 7-3 in the division, Lawrence County finished behind only division kingpin McComb.

“That was a big win for us,” said Bridges, who fields the youngest varsity basketball team in LCHS history. “We feel like we’ve improved a great deal since November, and that’s what a young team is supposed to do. We’re excited to know that we’ll be playing beyond next week.”

North Pike, coached by Keith Russ, held a 24-10 lead midway through the second quarter. Lawrence County was able to trim its deficit to 9 points, at 26-17, by halftime. A big third quarter by Lawrence County gave the Cougars a 36-35 lead through three quarters. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair in which both teams enjoyed 4-point leads. Powered largely by sophomore forward Gaylon Pittman, the Cougars pulled it out.

Pittman scored 16 points in the game, with 12 of them coming in the decisive fourth quarter. Pittman hit 8 of 10 free throws in the period. Junior Keith Davis had a huge game for Lawrence County, with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals.

Jalen Jackson led North Pike with 14 points, and Devin Abram added 12. The Jaguars finished at 6-4 in the division, and will be the number three seed in the division tournament. North Pike will host the Division 7-4A tournament, and will play Purvis in the opening round.

Lawrence County finished the regular season with an overall record of 11-17. The Cougars will face the North Pike-Purvis winner in tournament semi-final action this Thursday.

Only pride was at stake in the girls’ game, with both teams already locked into their respective seeds. The game was close early on. After LCHS tied the game at 18-18 early in the second quarter, however, North Pike ran off and left the Lady Cougars.

Tatyana Turner led the Lady Jaguars with 21 points. Rickera Martin added 18, all of them in the second half. Latorya Humphries scored 17 points. At 19-4 overall and 10-0 in the division, North Pike receives a first-round bye in the division tournament, and will play the winner of Tuesday’s Columbia-McComb winner on Thursday night.

Lawrence County got 17 points from Deneisha Dickson. Vicki Rutland’s girls finished the regular season at 10-20 overall, and 6-4 in the division. The Lady Cougars will face Purvis on Tuesday in opening-round action on Tuesday.

DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Lawrence County's La'Brian Bass (30) collects a monstrous block for the Cougars against North Pike's D'Hendrick Wells (23) and goes in for a layup Friday night.

DAILY LEADER / JONATHON ALFORD / Lawrence County’s La’Brian Bass (30) collects a monstrous block for the Cougars against North Pike’s D’Hendrick Wells (23) and goes in for a layup Friday night.