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Ridgeland pulls off stunner with 48-42 win over top-ranked Pascagoula in MHSAA Semifinal

The Titans punched their ticket to the Class 6A State Championship with the upset

To many, it was an upset, but not to Ridgeland coach Terron McIntyre.

Behind a stellar defensive performance and a steady dose of Phil Nelson and Stevent Nelson, the Titans knocked off Class 6A favorite and previously top-ranked Pascagoula 48-42 in the semifinal round of the MHSAA Boys State Basketball Tournament Wednesday night at the Mississippi Coliseum.

Ridgeland (24-9) will face Olive Branch (26-4) for the Class 6A State Championship at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Conquistadors beat Terry on a buzzer beater in overtime in the first semifinal game Wednesday.

MORE: Olive Branch rocks 'Big House' with buzzer-beater in OT to beat Terry in MHSAA Semifinals

“We’ve been grinding all year, so this was nothing new to us," McIntyre said. "We’ve played a tough schedule, and they were a tough opponent, but we were ready for it. We tried to give them different looks because they attack and shoot the ball well. We’re a team, and everybody stepped up and did what they had to do.”

The first quarter was full of intensity, as Pascagoula (29-2) ended the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 16-12 lead.

The second quarter featured a total of eight points, and the Panthers held a slim 20-16 lead at halftime.

The second half is when the Titans began to put pressure on the Panthers. Ridgeland opened the third quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 24-22 lead on a Ebo Wilson lay-up with 6:32 left.

The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter, and Pascagoula hold a 29-28 lead heading to the fourth.

The final period began with Ridgeland opening up on a 6-2 run to take a 34-31 lead, but the Panthers responded with a 6-2 run to retake a 37-36 lead with 3:31 remaining.

Dorian McMillian hit a three-pointer with 1:47 left in the game to tie it up at 40-40, but Nelson hit a lay-up-and-one with 1:32 remaining to give the Titans a 43-40 lead.

After Pascagoula cut the lead to 43-42 with 1:18 left, Nelson hit five of his next six free throw attempts to give the Titans the 48-42 lead and seal the game.

“When Phil went out with three fouls, our guys knew what to do," McIntyre said. "This was a collective team win. I didn’t care about them being 29-1, because tough competition is played up this way. We’ve said from day one that we were going to get here. We’ve preached to those guys that we were going to fight, and we kept doing what we do. And once you got here, anything can happen in the Big House. Now it’s onto Olive Branch and a state championship.”

Watkins had a game-high 18 points to lead Ridgeland, while Wilson and Nelson each added 10 points for the Titans. Ridgeland held Pascagoula to 15-of-32 (47 percent) shooting from the field and just 3-for-20 (15 percent) from three-point range.

“My teammates stepped up and stayed locked in," Nelson said. "We knew coming in they were a good shooting team, so we stayed locked in on defense because that was going to win us the ball game. This was a bigger stage and a new environment, so just had to stay focus. Very thankful for being in this position.”

McMillian had 17 points to lead Pascagoula, while Blake Nettles added seven points for the Panthers.

“This was by far the worse game we’ve played all season," Pascagoula coach Lorenzo Wright said. "But give Ridgeland credit — they made more plays than we did. They made it hard for us, and we missed shots and opportunities to stretch the lead.”