When Hershey and Markel McLaurin are both on, the Collins Tigers are hard to beat. The brothers have been playing sports together for as long as they can remember, and with that comes chemistry on the football field and nowadays the basketball court.
“We grew up together, so we know what to do,” Hershey said. “And we practice with each other every day. It’s just natural.”
That was the case Tuesday night, as the dynamic duo combined for 54 points in Collins’ 77-71 win over Richton. Hershey led the way with a game-high 35 points and Markel chipped in 19 for the Tigers, who improved to 4-0 in Region 8-2A with the victory.
“We’ve been playing good, but we haven’t been as consistent as we wanna be,” Hershey said. “We gotta just get on track and be consistent with our game. We’re good, just not great yet.”
In order to reach that level of play, long-time coach Kyle Pope says the Tigers have to start faster and finish stronger. Against Richton, Pope’s team began to separate themselves in the second quarter after a back-and-forth first, building a near 20-point lead late in the period.
But the Rebels were far from done. Once down 32-14, they used a 17-4 scoring run to pull within five points, 36-31, at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Richton cut the lead to three multiple times and two once. After the latter, Collins closed the game out with a 12-8 run, with six crucial points coming off a pair of three-point plays from Dedaviyon Magee.
“I guess the guys underestimated Richton, which is a good ball team,” Pope said. “It’s like I was telling my guys, do not look at a record, because most teams are better than what their records are.
“We gotta finish. Our biggest problem is we let teams stay around a little bit longer than we should. We gotta come out in the first quarter and do our job.”
Pope is hoping they correct those mistakes sooner rather than later, because despite losing three starters off last year’s team, the Tigers are aiming for back-to-back Region 8-2A Tournament titles and another trip to Jackson.
“The ceiling is going to be pretty high this year,” Pope said. “I told the guys after the game, we gotta get together and focus on what we need to do.”