Hattiesburg made the 64-minute drive down to Picayune Memorial High School to take part in the Region 7-5A district tournament. Both the guys and girls faced the Long Beach Bearcats, with the ladies coming away with a dominant 58-11 victory while the guys fought a highly contested game, coming out on top 70-58.
The star of the girl's game was senior center Melyia Grayson who scored a game-high 32 points and scored the game's opening 14 points with 16 total points in the opening quarter.
The Lady Tigers held the Lady Bearcats to four total points through three quarters and just two points in the first half. Americus Knight scored the second-period field goal for Long Beach.
The Hattiesburg and Long Beach boys played a much closer contest, but key free throws from Chris Lewis and Cameron Brown sealed things up for the Tigers down the stretch.
"I told our guys at halftime we would have to win the foul battle. As you saw, a couple of kids fouled out which got us in the double bonus. From there, it was just more of winning rebounds and winning the foul battle, and we got it done," said Hattiesburg head coach Ernie Watson.
Hattiesburg jumped ahead early, going up 8-0 behind Lewis and Brown, but the Bearcats closed within three, 18-15 to end the first period.
Long Beach took the lead in the second period as senior Roderick Walker hit a three to go up 21-19, but Hattiesburg closed things back up behind Nick Walker and Brown free throws.
Hattiesburg kept a steady lead throughout the rest of the game despite Long Beach's attempts to draw close with the three-ball. The final few minutes came down to free throws where Hattiesburg eventually sealed the contest.
"Hats off to them [Long Beach]. They came in with a great game plan and got our best player in foul trouble. They did a good job of letting us get in a rhythm, so hats off to them. They wanted to make it an ugly game, so we had to get an ugly win," explained Watson.
The Hattiesburg boys will face the winner of Picayune vs. Pearl River Central Friday at 7:30 p.m while the girls will face the winner of the Lady Maroon Tide or Lady Blue Devils at 6 p.m.