The home-standing Harrison Central squads proved to be rude hosts Tuesday night in opening round action at the Region 8-6A Tournament in Lyman.
Both the Red Rebels and the HCHS girls pulled off a pair of stunning upsets in knocking off higher-seeded teams on both sides of the bracket, as the fourth-seed HCHS girls hammered top-seeded Gulfport 70-47 to open the evening and then the third-seeded Red Rebels followed that stunning performance up with one of their own as they breezed past the second seed Admirals 59-49 to cap the night off.
The pair of wins moved both HCHS squads into Friday’s championship games as the Red Rebels will face off with top-seed Biloxi at 7:30 in the boys’ title tilt which will be preceded by the girls’ match-up for the league crown as third-seed Biloxi faces the host HCHS girls.
The win was the first of the season in Region 8-6A action for the HCHS girls after they went 0-6 in the regular season. They got a double-double from junior Dandy Dozen standout Anaisha Carriere in the win, as she tallied a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds from her as well as getting a co-game-high 20 points from Ja’niya Smith which included five 3-pointers while eight-grader Jayla Carriere chipped in 10 points to the winning effort.
Maddie O’Dell tallied 17 points to lead Gulfport, which swept the two-game season series from Harrison Central in the regular season.
The decision almost unbelievably sets up a win-or-go-home battle between second seed Hancock and top seed Gulfport at 6 p.m., Thursday in the consolation game of this affair.
That’s because the third time proved to be the charm for the Biloxi Lady Indians Monday night as well, as after a pair of tough losses in region play to the top-ranked Hancock Lady Hawks during the regular season Biloxi found the right combination to pull the upset on the opening day of the league postseason tournament with a 42-30 win over Hancock in the opening round of the event.
The loss was just the second for the season for the Lady Hawks, but both have been against Region 8-6A foes, as they fall to 27-2 on the season. The Lady Indians, meanwhile, moved to 22-6 overall and advanced into the championship game Friday night. The Gulfport and Hancock girls split a pair of games in the regular season but Gulfport earned the top-seed due to the point differential.
In the boys’ game, the Red Rebels got a combined 40 points from their dynamic duo of Aujaylen Barron and Shaun Murray as Barron poured in a game-high 21 points and Murray chipped in 19 points in the winning effort.
Gulfport got 12 points from Keanu Patrick and Amir Abdul Rauf added 11 points for the Admirals in the loss. Gulfport swept the two-game regular-season series from the Red Rebels.
The Admirals will now meet fourth-seed Hancock in the consolation game Thursday night at 7:30.
The winners of both of the consolation games on Thursday night advance into the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Monday (girls) and Tuesday (boys) as the third seed out of Region 8-6A. The losing teams on Thursday, however, will see their respective seasons come to a sudden halt with the defeat.