Even though this quarterfinal game of the 1A State Boys Basketball Playoffs will be played in Pearl River Community College in Poplarville Thursday night, the game between the Shaw High School Hawks (22-9) and the Ray Brooks High School Tigers (13-11) will be a Bolivar County showdown of epic proportions.
These two teams are Region 6-1A teams and both a part of the West Bolivar Consolidated School District.
During the regular season and region tournament, the Hawks have had the Tigers’ number as they’ve won all four games by a combined score of 254-155. Two years ago, the Tigers defeated the Hawks for the Region 3-1A Championship to end the Hawks’ string of six straight region championships.
Shaw high head coach Anthony Davis said the game against Ray Brooks is always one to be ready for at anytime.
“Anytime you play against a rival team, you got to play your best,” Davis said. “Even though we’ve had success against them prior to this game, we can’t take them lightly and we have to play harder than what we’ve been playing.”
After being 9-8 at one point in the season, the Hawks have won 13 of their last 14 games. When the Hawks won the Region 6-1A Title, it was their first region championship since 2017.
“We’ve been playing well and playing together and it all starts from the defensive end,” Davis said. “I feel if we continue to play the way we’re playing right now we can play with anybody. We started off kind of slow, but now we’re playing our best basketball.”
After finishing fourth in the region tournament, the Ray Brooks Tigers have made a solid run in the playoffs by winning their first two games on the road.
Ray Brooks head boys basketball coach Demarcus McKinley said the team is finally gelling at the right time.
“They’re believing in themselves, working hard and believing they can play,” McKinley said. “One of the main things for us is chemistry, and we’re starting to trust each other more.”
In the team’s 53-46 first round win over Lumberton and the team’s 52-48 second round win over Mount Olive, McKinley felt those wins were examples of how well the team has played as of late, especially on defense.
“We’ve been rotating well, we’ve been communicating and we’ve been going after the ball,” McKinley said. “We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis and effort on defense.”
McKinley is also aware of how intense the game with Shaw is going to be.
“It’s a rivalry game,” McKinley said. “Our purpose is to come out and play hard because we’re the underdogs. When it comes to Shaw, the guys are willing to step up and play hard.”
McKinley feels the Tigers have little room for error against Shaw.
“We just have to settle down. We have to have less turnovers and play as a team,” McKinley said. “Shaw will take advantage every mistake.”
Seniors Jamarion Walker and Montrelli Finley II have led the Hawks this season, while senior Treminski Jackson has led the Tigers.
The winner of the Shaw-Ray Brooks game will take on the winner of the Ingomar-Coffeeville game in semifinals Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Thursday’s game is set for 8:30 p.m.