Going into the season, the coaches in District 1-6A expected a bit of a shakeup in the league.
The coaches were right on the money with that prediction, and it only needed two games into the district campaign for the first big overhaul of the standings.
The Pace Patriots raced out to a 16-3 lead over the defending 1-6A champion Pine Forest Eagles and never looked back in knocking off the Eagles on their homecourt by a 59-46 margin Tuesday night.
The Patriots (4-1, 2-0) answered an 11-0 Pine Forest run with a 9-0 run of their own during the second quarter to go into the half with an 11-point cushion. That would be as close as Pine Forest got the rest of the game as the Patriots maintained a double-digit lead in the second half en route to the 13-point win.
“This one’s over, we’re a step ahead, don’t look back and keep going,” Pace coach Carl Pippin said. “I told the kids we want to keep our heads screwed on tight. Don’t let any of this get to you, just keep playing. I thought they battled hard tonight.
“The two district wins, I couldn’t be happier, but I don’t want the mentality to creep in that we’re OK. We have a lot of stuff to improve upon. I’m excited about what they’ve done so far and how willing they are to keep competing.”
The experienced Patriots took advantage of the young Pine Forest squad’s mistakes in the early going to build an insurmountable lead against the Eagles. Pine Forest turned the ball over 22 times in the game and shot a dismal 28 percent from the floor, including going 3-for-20 from the 3-point line.
It allowed Pace to jump out to a quick 13-0 lead before Pine Forest knew what hit it. But the Eagles bounced back and actually used an 11-0 run to quickly cut the lead to 16-14. Travis Decker buried a layup to end that run, and Pace responded with the run of their own to go back up by double figures.
The Patriots had three players reach double figures, led by Jahmiah Simmons with 16 points off the bench. Houston Ramsay added 14 points and Dustin Ramsay finished with 10 points.
“I think that (early lead) in itself may have been the best thing to happen, simply because it sent Pine Forest into a frenzy,” Pippin said. “All of a sudden, it was a reality check for us. I’ve been telling them it wasn’t going to be easy. I think that’s what caught us there when they made that run.
“You can’t relax in this area. I think the other night we were up 15 or 16 against Washington and they chipped back in. You can’t relax, not a quarter, not a half, not a game. Any of these teams are explosive.”
At Pine Forest
PACE 59, PINE FOREST 46
Pace…16 16 15 12–59
Pine Forest…7 14 12 13–46
PACE (4-1, 2-0) — Travis Decker 6, Matthew Long 4, Austin Jones 2, Jahmiah Simmons 16, Tory Miller 2, Houston Ramsay 14, Dustin Ramsay 10, Jerome Robinson 7.
PFHS (4-2, 1-1) — Malakai Wesson 1, Devin Peters 6, Reggie McKelvey 20, Deonya Walton 12, Chris Rodgers 4, Mitchell Robinson 3.
Next: Pace travels to Bahamas to play in Battle of Atlantis; Pine Forest hosts PHS Friday.
PFHS rolls past Pace
On the girls’ side, it was business as usual for the home team as the Pine Forest Eagles led 22-6 at the end of the first period and cruised the rest of the way to a 65-40 win over the Pace Patriots.
Pine Forest improved to 5-2 overall and remained unbeaten at 3-0 in district play heading into the big showdown Friday against Pensacola High.
Ty Purifoy scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Eagles while Britney Snowden finished with 15 points and Laneisha Jeans added 10 points.
At Pine Forest
PINE FOREST 65, PACE 40
Pace6 9 7 18–40
Pine Forest22 10 11 22–65
PACE — Lexi Burklow 12, Claire Pierson 8, Jessica Long 3, Adrienne Trematerra 7, Lacy Boyd 2, Taylor Easley 3, Briana Moore 5.
PFHS (5-2, 3-0) — Ty Purifoy 17, Yeisha Taylor 1, Laneisha Jeans 10, Tylan Carter 3, Jymetrea Jones 9, Destiny Irvin 2, Britney Snowden 15, Reighleigh Harvey 5, Kim Payne 3.
Next: Pine Forest hosts PHS Friday.