There’s not much that Todd Kimble hasn’t seen in all his years of coaching basketball, but even he admits that Tuesday night was a new experience for him. The second-year Petal coach watched the Hattiesburg Tigers connect on 10 three-pointers against his Panthers in an early season showdown between the crosstown rivals.
“All the years I’ve been coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever had a team score and shoot the basketball like they [Hattiesburg] did,” said Kimble. “Defensively, I thought we did a decent job, and they’re still making shots. When teams are making shots, you gotta figure out some kind of way to win.”
Kimble’s Panthers did just that in the predominately back-and-forth contest. After Hattiesburg pulled to within two points, 77-75, in the final minutes off a dunk from Cameron Brown, Petal closed the game with a 9-0 scoring run to earn a hard-fought, 86-75 win and remain unbeaten (6-0) on the year.
The Panthers managed to survive the three-pointer flurry and a game-high 39 points from Brown, who drained six shots from behind the arc.
“We knew Cam [Brown], No. 3, could shoot the basketball really well, and we didn’t do a very good job defending him,” said Kimble. “But we kind of held everybody else in check for the most part. Team effort.”
Treylan Smith led the way for Petal with 28 points, and his junior counterpart Caleb McGill finished with 18.
“Having those two guys on the team, it makes me a better coach every night,” said Kimble.
The dynamic duo helped Petal race out to an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s game, but Hattiesburg battled back and pulled to within one point, 21-20, heading to the second quarter. The Tigers’ surge continued there, and they eventually took a 47-46 lead into halftime.
The game remained close up until Petal’s aforementioned scoring run to end it. After two made free throws from McGill, Landyn Shows followed with back-to-back layups to extend Petal’s lead to 83-75 with less than a minute to play. An unsung hero for the Panthers in the early going, Shows finished the contest with 18 points, including three three-pointers.
“I saw that in him last year,” said Kimble of Shows. “He hurt his knee right at the beginning of the season and got very little varsity numbers. But I knew he could do that, and I had seen him do it. This summer, he kinda put everything together and started getting some confidence in his shot. He’s a guy you gotta guard.”
Anthony Henderson put an exclamation point on the Petal victory with a three in the final seconds, as the Panthers picked up their sixth win of the season. Kimble says the team still has a long way to go and a lot of things to get better at.
“That’s the thing I keep trying to tell our guys, that we’re not there yet and not even close to being there. We got stuff to work on, and we’re gonna watch film tomorrow and try to correct some of those mistakes.”
Petal will be back in action Thursday at home against Wayne County, and Hattiesburg (5-3) will travel to North Forrest.