Porter-Gaud has one of the top boys basketball programs in SCISA, and yet the Cyclones haven’t won a state title since 2005. One of the big reasons for the Cyclones’ title drought is Pinewood Prep, which has captured five of the last seven state titles.

The two powerhouses squared off Tuesday night, and thanks to a 15-2 run to open the game, Porter-Gaud rolled past Pinewood Prep, 72-49.

“I hope this is the year,” Porter-Gaud coach John Pearson said after his team improved to 13-3. “We just have more work to do. I hope we can play to the best of our abilities and play in that final game.”

Pinewood suffered a big loss before the season when All-American candidate Keith Pinckney moved out of state. The Panthers fell to 8-9.

“He was one of the top players in the country, but that’s not our problem,” Pinewood Prep coach Pat Eidson said. “The problem was how we played tonight. We got manhandled. Record-wise, we’re always close to .500 coming out of December because of the schedule we play. But we have some work to do.”

K.J. James was impressive with 16 points in the first half, hitting 8 of 13 from the field. The junior finished with 22 points.

“He’s got the potential to be one of the best players to play at Porter-Gaud,” Pearson said. “His ceiling is so high. He has a chance to be a great player. Obviously, there is Khris Middleton, and we’ve had some other players play in college. But K.J. can be right up there.”

Middleton was a McDonald’s All-American who played at Texas A&M before being drafted 39th overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Sterling Smalls added 12 points, Joe Lucas 11 and Michael Byrd 10 for the Cyclones.

J.D Waite led Pinewood Prep with 15 points while Reid Radebaugh scored nine.

Porter-Gaud, which won three state titles from 2003-05, will play the Panthers in the regular season finale on Feb. 12.

“Nothing is easy,” Pearson said. “I don’t think we saw the best of Pinewood tonight. It was one of those nights. Coach Eidson isn’t done coaching this team. They will be ready.”

Pinewood (49): Waite 15, McClary 3, Radebaugh 9, Ray 8, Schwartz 9, Felder 5.

Porter-Gaud (72): Smalls 12, Cochrane 4, Skelly 5, Byrd 10, Lucas 11, Arnold 3, James 22, Preddy 3, Buyck 2.

Pinewood 10 8 16 15—49

Porter-Gaud 20 16 20 16—72