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By RUSSELL TURNER – Herald Editor
The Greene County High School basketball teams improved their positioning in the regular season region standings on Tuesday with a sweep of Purvis. With the wins over the Tornados, the Wildcats and Lady Cats find themselves in the top half of the Region 7-4A standings with several key games remaining in the home stretch of the regular season.
The Lady Wildcats avenged a disappointing loss to the Purvis earlier this month with a 43-34 win on the road Tuesday night. GCHS fell behind early, but rallied with big margins in the second and third periods to earn the win.
Sophomore Reanna Moody led the Lady Cats’ scoring with 17 points. Twelve of those points came from behind the 3-point line. She also made 3-of-4 free throws, pulled down six rebounds and added two assists and two steals in a solid all-around outing. Senior Serenity Blakely had a big game as well, putting up eight points and hauling in nine rebounds. Eight of those rebounds came on the defensive end, limiting second chance baskets for the home team. Senior Kat Garrett had six points and five rebounds.
Senior Kelsie Mitchell was one of three players with four points, but also led her team in assists, dishing out four while also leading the team with three steals. The Lady Cats also got a big boost from the return of senior Gen Walley, who has missed several games due to an injury. Walley put in four points, but came up big with seven rebounds. Sophomore Lisa Johnson had four points and five rebounds for GCHS.
On the boys’ side, Greene County built a 12 point lead going into the final period and held off a late surge to claim their third straight victory. Junior Conner West and senior Brock Green led the Cats in the win. West finished with 16 points, three rebounds and five steals, while Green had 14 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Keenan Franks had a nice game as well, setting up teammates with a season-high eight assists, while also putting up five points and grabbing four rebounds in the Cats’ 55-53 win.
The GCHS boys went into Tuesday night’s matchup at Purvis as the No. 3 team in Region 7-4A and and improved to 4-3 in region play with the win. The Cats seem to have a favorable schedule in the final weeks of the season with only one remaining game against a higher ranked team.
The Wildcats followed a 77-44 win over Purvis on Jan. 12 with a 39-36 victory over Poplarville last Friday. GCHS held a 17-16 over the Hornets at halftime, stretched the lead to 30-25 by the end of the third and held off a late rally to earn the win.
Junior Conner West led the Cats with 12 points and three rebounds in the win. Sophomore K.J. Miller had a big all-around game for GCHS with a team-high 11 rebounds and nine points, including two buckets from 3-point range.
Senior Brock Green finished with seven points and six rebounds. Sophomore Brycen Johnson and senior Mykal McLeod had just two points each, but finished with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
The Wildcats did struggle a bit from the free-throw line and could have given themselves a bit of a cushion down the stretch if not for hitting just 10-of-22 shots from the charity stripe. That is one area they will look to shore up in the remaining games as they try to keep, or hopefully improve, their seeding for the region tournament next month.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Cats snapped a 2-game skid last Friday with a 42-27 win over Poplarville. Greene County controlled the game from the outset and held a 22-9 lead at halftime. Things were a bit tighter in the second half, but GCHS still managed to build on their lead.
Senior Serenity Blakely led Greene County with 20 points and three rebounds. Blakely hit 9–of-13 shots from the field, including 1-of-2 from behind the arc, and was also solid on the defensive end with three steals.
Seniors Kat Garrett and Kelsie Mitchell didn’t have big games in the scoring column with two points apiece, but they found other ways to contribute. Garret led her team with eight rebounds and was second on the team with three assists, behind only Mitchell, who finished with four. The two matched Blakely with three steals each.
Sophomore Reanna Moody finished with 11 points, while classmate Lisa Johnson added seven rebounds, two points and two assists. Sophomore Lexi Gray had three points and three rebounds, while freshman Emma Grace Walley added two points.
Greene County will host Sumrall on Friday in a key matchup for both schools. The Lady Cats entered Tuesday’s game tied with the Lady Bobcats at 4-2, behind region leaders Purvis and Stone County, who were each 5-1 in region play at the time. The GCHS boys defeated Sumrall earlier in the year and were two spots ahead of the Bobcats on Tuesday.
GCHS will travel to Poplarville on Tuesday and Stone next Thursday. They are scheduled to finish the regular season in non-region action at George County next Friday.