by Hunter Dawkins
Parody was non-existent among high school basketball teams Saturday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Whether it was back-and-forth, stellar defense, knocking down three point baskets or transition play, intense play was in effect for all teams.
In the 25th year of hosting the Hoopsfest at the Coliseum; Gulfport High School Athletic Director, former legendary Head Basketball Coach and Gulfport Hall of Fame recipient Bryan Caldwell spoke to The Gazebo Gazette about Coast basketball while being an original organizer of the event. “The game has changed a lot and it seems to have filtered down from the college level, such as ball screens and three point shots,” said Caldwell. “I think when we started this event a number of years ago, we were tighter on this and it is how the game has evolved, neither good or bad.”
PASS CHRISTIAN 69 LONG BEACH 68
Seeking revenge from a 30-point blowout from the Long Beach Bearcats (17-5) on November 6, the Pass Christian Pirates (7-17, 4-4) went on a 13-7 run to start the first game. When Long Beach Head Coach Brandon Cobb called a timeout with 4:25 left in the first period, the Bearcats appeared dismayed despite a twenty point victory over West Harrison the night before with six consecutive victories.
Bearcats Senior Guard Orlasko Barnes knocked down a three point basket at the buzzer along with Freshman Guard Malik Handy putting in a few shots from the charity stripe (free throw line) for a Long Beach lead of 20-19 at the end of the first period.
Pass Christian jumped ahead in the start of the second period after the Pirates Senior Point Guard Lj Henderson drove in for a layup.
Long Beach answered with a 3-point play from the Bearcats Sophomore Guard Anthony Robinson. Following this transition, the Bearcats took the halftime lead at 35-31.
With a 5-0 run from Long Beach out of the gates, Pass Christian Head Coach Willie James called a full timeout at 5:51. The Pirates regained momentum in their step, finishing the period on a 23-7 run, including layups from Henderson and Junior Guard Andrew Moffett. The score at the end of the third period was 54-47 and the Pirates never lost the lead for the rest of the game.
The Bearcats tried to rally in the last four minutes, but the scoreboard and time were against the Long Beach attempt. The final score was 69-68 Pass Christian victory.
“We put a game plan together and finally executed that,” said Pirates Basketball Coach James. “I think we worked a little harder in the third period because we knew Long Beach would come out with energy.”
Pass Christian’s Henderson led all scorers with 22 points, Moffett had 16 points while the Pirates Center Josh Lambert finished with 14 points. Handy paced Long Beach with 20 points and 2 three pointers while Senior Danache Parker contributed 10 points
ST. STANISLAUS 37 HANCOCK 18
The St. Stanislaus Rockachaws (10-13) were desperately seeking an early redo from November with an early loss against the Hancock Hawks. As the score indicated, a very low scoring contest and a high focus on defense from both teams occurred.
Despite knocking down one field goal during the second period from SSC Junior Forward Dallas Payne, the Rockachaws went in to halftime with a 14-6 lead.
Although SSC did not put any points on the board for the first 4 minutes of the third period, the Rockachaws Junior Point Guard Brandon Bordelon followed with seven consecutive points. At the end of the period, St. Stanislaus had a 25-10 lead.
Even with Hancock’s tough resiliency and work ethic, the Rockachaws knocked down as many shots from the free throw line as the Hawks scored in the final period (8). St. Stanislaus won their sixth game in a row and Bordelon chipped in 14 points to lead all scorers.
“Started off kind of sluggish on both sides,” said St. Stanislaus Head Coach Aaron Dunklin. “We’re rebounding and playing defense more collectively, where its more of a team with everybody doing their job.”
WEST HARRISON 63 OCEAN SPRINGS 55
Coming off a 20-point loss from Friday night against cross-town rival Long Beach, the West Harrison Hurricanes (14-10) were anxious to jump on the board. Breaking through the Ocean Springs Greyhounds defense in transition, the Hurricanes took an early lead 16-6 after the first period.
West Harrison knocked down a few jumpers along with contributions on the court from the Hurricanes Senior Guard Ashton Hawkins, the Senior Guard Lane brothers (Jeremiah & Jeremy) and Junior Forward Hobie Morris for a nine point halftime lead 33-24.
The Hurricanes went on a 21-8 run during the third period, including a a three-point basket from Junior Guard Kalvin Walden at 7:15. After three periods, West Harrison had a comfortable lead 54-32.
Finishing the game was not as easy as expected with Ocean Springs putting together a 12-2 drive until a timeout was called by West Harrison with 3:30 left in the game. Defense and transition poise helped the Hurricanes secure the victory at the Coliseum 63-55.
“Great game, as we played hard with a lot of energy,” said West Harrison Head Coach Tommy Seawright. “This was a great venue and a solid performance from our guys.”