The State Games of Mississippi high school basketball tournament kicks off with a matchup between two local 6A foes.
Hattiesburg and Oak Grove face off in the first game of the three-team tournament.
The Tigers open the game by scoring seven unanswered points on the strength of a Michael Woodard 3-pointer.
The opposition strikes back, as a De'Onte Spates triple caps the Warriors' ensuing 11-0 run.
The first half stays close throughout, but Oak Grove enters halftime with a 35-30 lead, as Damian Husband throws one down just before time expires.
The Warriors start to pull away in the second half, extending their lead to seven on an Ashton Pierce floater.
But the Tigers do not go away quietly, as they reclaim the lead on Tristian Walley's putback slam.
The Tigers never look back, as they run away with this one 73-65.
"I think our kids played halfway decent," says Hattiesburg High School head basketball coach Ernie Watson. "They played hard. We're just very fortunate to get the win today."
"They had a lot of deflections," says Oak Grove High School head basketball coach Austin Alexander. "That kind of got us on our heels. We quit attacking, and the next thing you know, we had a seven point lead for most of the game, and it flipped on us real quick when they made a run."
If Oak Grove defeats Picayune tomorrow, the Warriors secure a rematch with the Tigers in the championship game.
The potential matchup adds to the hype of the crosstown rivalry.
"The game against Oak Grove is always an adventure," says Watson. "It's our cross town rival. They do such a good job. Coach Alexander does a good job with them, and our kids get up for that game. It doesn't matter what time of day we play, it's going to be an exciting game and close game."
"This is just as big a rivalry as us and Petal is," says Alexander. "Especially for our students during the regular season, we probably have a bigger turnout for our Hattiesburg, Oak Grove than we do for Petal, Oak Grove."
With bragging rights on the line, coach Watson still finds the silver lining in tomorrow's potential matchup.
"It's nice to win, it's always nice to win and try to win the gold medal. That's one of the goals, but it's also good to have your kids come together, and play as a team."
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