Region 8-6A was considered by many as the toughest girls’ league in the state of Mississippi this season in prep basketball.
And for good reason. Because half of the four teams in that region will be the only representatives from South Mississippi in the overall Class 6A Final Four at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
And those two teams, Biloxi and Harrison Central, were the third and fourth seeds in the Region 8-6A postseason Tournament after finishing third and last in the regular season.
Harrison Central didn’t win a single game in league play in the regular season, going 0-6 including two losses to top-seed Gulfport. But the Lady Red Rebels upset the Lady Admirals in the opening round of the region tourney 70-47, and then on Saturday night in the Class 6A South State quarterfinal round HCHS ended Gulfport’s season with a 56-41 win in Poplarville to punch their ticket to the Big House for the third straight season.
Harrison Central will face Germantown in the Class 6A overall semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Gulfport’s Micah Odell sank the first basket of the game, but it was all Harrison Central after that as an 18-0 run gave HCHS a lead that it would never relinquish.
The win gave Harrison Central, led by veteran head coach Nancy Ladner, its 20th win of the season meaning all four girls’ squads in Region 8-6A will finish the season with at least 20 wins. Harrison Central’s dynamic duo of Anaisha Carriere and Dekeria Walls led the way to the win once again, as Carriere tallied a game-high 18 points and Walls added 12 points while eighth grader Jayla Carriere chipped in 11 points to the winning effort.
The HCHS girls lost in the state championship game last year to Meridian.
Gulfport was led by its own version of a dynamic duo as Micah O’Dell tallied 16 points to lead Gulfport while her twin sister Madison O’Dell added 13 points for the Lady Admirals as they finish the season at 23-10.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the day in Poplarville at Marvin White Coliseum on the campus of Pearl River Community College, the Biloxi Lady Indians qualified for the Class 6A Final Four as well with a 41-35 win over Northwest Rankin.
The Biloxi girls, under the direction of head coach Devin Hill, moved to 25-6 overall with the win, and will now face Tupelo at 4 p.m., Wednesday afternoon in the Mississippi Coliseum just before the HCHS-Germantown contest. The winners of those two games will meet at 5 p.m., Saturday at The Big House in the state championship game.
Again, Biloxi has a dynamic duo of its own and the Lady Indians used that pair to take a quick lead as the game unfolded when senior standout Shaneal Corpuz scored six points in the first frame followed by eighth-grade center Zaniya Johnson adding six points in the second stanza and both powered a strong Biloxi defensive presence to produce a 17-7 Lady Indian advantage at halftime.
Johnson registered eight of Biloxi’s 12 points in the third period, as the Lady Indians extended their lead by one-point at 29-18 entering the fourth and final quarter.
That frame would be the best one of the day for the Lady Cougars, as they out-score Biloxi 17-12, but Corpuz made sure a big comeback for NWR was out of the question as she put in 11 points in the period including sinking five free throws down the stretch to secure the big win.
Corpuz tallied a game-high 20 points and once again posted a double-double with 11 rebounds. The William Carey signee also added four assists and six steals. Johnson also recorded a double-double as well, adding 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds to the win with all of her scoring coming in the middle two quarters.