LEESVILLE – Two of the premier players in the area put on a show on day one of the Vernon Parish Tournament.
Behind 38 points from junior Garrett Edwards, Pitkin defeated Pickering 71-67 Monday afternoon at Leesville High School.
"We feel lucky to win because we had 29 turnovers, gave up 22 offensive rebounds and gave up 46 to their best player," Pitkin head coach Jake Greene said. "Those were all three of the biggest focuses before the game. We didn't execute any of them, but did enough to come out on top.
"Garrett has gotten more explosive and athletic. He can still take it to another level. There are times where he doesn't finish strong around the basket. He does a great job for us hitting 3s, relieving pressure, playmaking for others and getting to the rim. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense."
Pickering guard DeShawn Jackson lit up the scoreboard, scoring 46 points in the loss.
"He's gotten more creative, and that comes from playing AAU," Pickering head coach Brandon Jordan said. "He's played against top-level competition and picked up a few things. His outside shot is actually better than last year."
The Tigers got out to an early 15-7 lead, but seven straight points from Jackson made it a 1-point game just minutes later.
Pitkin hit nine 3-pointers in the game, which kept them on top early and were key in runs throughout the game.
"It's usually a strength of ours," Greene said. "We have multiple guys that can hit it. It's something we always try to do. Sometimes, we forget to go inside to draw in help to get those easier outside shots."
With 1:30 left in the first half, Pickering took its first lead since early in the first quarter on a layup by Jackson, but the Pitkin took a 37-36 lead at halftime after a 3 by Koby Thompson.
The Red Devils full-court pressure paid dividends to start the second half, as they took a 6-point lead after a jumper by Xavier Evans.
"Our offense feeds off our defense, and not just in layups," Jordan said. "If we're scoring, our defense is usually the reason why."
Pitkin (8-3) settled back into its sets and retook the lead with a 20-8 run to end the third quarter to put the Tigers up 57-51.
Pickering tied it back up 5:36 left to play, but Pitkin reclaimed the lead with a pair of free throws from Griffin Paul and Zeke Lentz and never looked back to pick up the win.
"We had two close games over the weekend and didn't close out well," Greene said. "It was nice to come out on top this time. We did enough good things and got enough stops."
Thompson and Kyle McKee each finished with 11 points for the Tigers in the win.
The Red Devils dropped to 0-3 on the season, but Jordan liked what he saw out of his group that are just starting to get back into basketball rhythm.
"They played hard. They've never not played hard," he said. "Our biggest problem right now is that out of the 11 guys that I had out there, eight of them played football. The last thing to show up is shot making. We're getting shots in the lane and the inside-outside 3-pointer. We're doing what we're supposed to do, but the shots just are not going in.
"This game was great. We came back and took the lead a few times, but we shot ourselves in the foot."
The two teams will square off once again on Dec. 14 at Pickering High School.