The top-ranked Hancock Lady Hawks regained sole possession of first place in Region 8-6A Friday night. For now.
Hancock moved to a stellar 25-1 overall and finished regular season region play at 5-1 with a thrilling 45-43 win over home-standing Gulfport at Bert Jenkins Gym. The victory also enabled the Lady Hawks to avenge their only loss of the season so far, after the Lady Admirals knocked HHS off 47-35 in the Kiln two weeks ago.
The Lady Hawks overcame a double-digit deficit in the first half to pull out the important win.
After Hancock rallied in the middle two periods, Gulfport led by just a point, at 30-29, entering the fourth quarter. But Hancock’s Nina Wedgeworth tallied eight points in the final frame and both Talana Bond and Jordan Bishop each nailed a 3-pointer as the Lady Hawks out-scored GHS 16-13 in the period to pull out the exciting victory.
Wedgeworth led Hancock with 14 points in the important win, with 12 of those coming in the second half. Bishop chipped in nine points and Anslee James added eight points to the winning cause.
The Lady Hawks have played much of the season without one of their best players, in senior 5-foot-11 forward Jenna Garriga who injured her knee early in the season. A William Carey commit, she is set to sign her scholarship with the Lady Crusaders Monday morning at the HHS gym.
Also, head coach Jamie Sisco’s HHS squad was able to overcome a bit of an off-game Friday night by standout Brooklyn Cuevas, who was held by Gulfport to a season-low of just two points in the contest, well below her nearly 20 points per game average on the season.
And yet the Lady Hawks still pulled out the win.
Gulfport dropped its first region game of the season after four straight wins, and now sits 18-8 overall and 4-1 in league play and will wrap up region action by hosting Harrison Central Tuesday night. The Lady Admirals can earn the top seed for the upcoming region tourney with a second win of the season over HCHS. An HCHS win Tuesday, however, would give the top seed to Hancock.
Madison O’Dell poured in a game-high 23 points for the Lady Admirals, including 11 in the first frame when she drained a trio of 3-pointers to give Gulfport that 11-point advantage after one-quarter of play at 25-14.
Madison’s twin sister Micah returned to action after missing Tuesday’s win over arch-rival Biloxi with an injury, but like Cuevas she was limited to two points. Both of the O’Dell twins have been selected to represent their home state in the annual Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Prep Basketball Classic in March, and Garriga was selected to that prestigious squad as well.
Hancock will host a pair of games next week to close out the regular season, as Ocean Springs comes calling on Tuesday and Picayune does the same on Friday.
Then, both the Lady Hawks and Lady Admirals will converge on Harrison Central High School for the Region 8-6A Tournament the following week where a rubber match between the teams is quite possible.