Devin Peters of the Pine Forest Eagles flies in attepting two points against defending Pensacola High Tigers No. 44, Devonchae Bryant, drawing a foul on Bryant in second-half action during their game Friday night at Pine Forest High. However, it was the Pensacola High Tigers who won the game 44-42.
Though the final two minutes of the 44-42 win over Pine Forest were filled with uncertainty for the Pensacola High Tigers, the final buzzer offered a dose of clarity.
After avoiding a second district loss, the Tigers (16-3, 6-1) now sit at the top of District 1-6A.
Pensacola coach Terrence Harris called the match-up a big rivalry, after the Tigers ousted the Eagles for the second time this season.
“Pine Forest is gonna play us hard and they are gonna play us tough,” Harris said. “A lot of people come out to watch the rivalry and the kids play. I do my best to keep our kids level headed. We don’t want them getting too caught up in the rivalry.”
It appeared to be a big stage for each team, as pre-game jitters yielded a halftime score of 17-16 in a defensive struggle.
Pensacola freshman Devonchae Bryant (8 pts, 10 rebs, 5 blks) helped set the tone, rejecting two shots in the first quarter.
But perhaps the most crucial block of the game for PHS came from Devon Gadson, who prevented a game-tying lay-up with less than one second to play.
“Bryant has been huge for us,” Harris said. “He’s given us a presence inside and that will be important for us as we get later and later into the season.
“I thought we played hard defensively, but I also don’t think we did a great job of reaching our defensive goals. I talk to guys about improving every game. You are only as good as your last game.”
The Tigers increased their aggressiveness on offense in the second half, and outscored the Eagles 21-14 in the third quarter.
Offensively, the Tigers were lead by Dacon Buchanan (15 points), who hit four 3-pointers in the win.
But the Tigers shot 6-of-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter as the Eagles climbed back into the game.
In the fourth, the Eagles outscored Pensacola High 12-6, led by Devin Petters (9 pts), who dropped four points the quarter.
Harris said he stressed the importance of decision making to his team following the close win.
“You can’t win tough games with poor decisions,” Harris said. “And we left too many points on the table by missing free throws. We have to make those as we get later into the season.”
At Pine Forest
Pensacola High 44, Pine Forest 42
PHS…11 6 21 7 — 44
Pine Forest…13 3 14 12 — 42
Pensacola High (16-3, 6-1 in 1-6A) — Mitchell Maxwell 3, 5 asts; Marcus Cole 2, Shawndarius Cowart 10, 9 reb, 3 asts, 3 stls; Dacon Buchanan 14, Devon Gadson 2, Jevon Grimsley 4, Davonchae Bryant 8, 10 reb, 5 blk.
Pine Forest — Daveyon Finkley 6, Roy Jones III 3, Devin Petters 9, Bruce Lindsey Jr. 10, Eldridge McLamb 8, Craig Moye 4, Jaylen Williams 2.