The third time proved to be the charm for the Biloxi Lady Indians Monday night.
After a pair of tough losses in Region 8-6A play to the top-ranked Hancock Lady Hawks during the regular season, the Biloxi girls of head coach Devin Hill found the right combination to pull the upset in the opening round of the league postseason tournament in Lyman with a 42-30 win over Hancock in the opening round of the affair.
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 against the winner of tonight’s Gulfport vs. Harrison Central contest.
Region 8-6A in girls’ play this season has been in all probability the toughest loop in the state of Mississippi as three of the four teams in the league won at least 20 games as Gulfport finished 20-8 and earned the top-seed in the region tourney. The Lady Admirals and Hancock both finished 5-1 in league play, splitting the pair of games between them. Gulfport got the top seed thanks to a tie-breaking differential involving points in the two head-to-head meetings.
So basically, if you need further proof of how fierce the competition in Region 8-6A has been this season, the consensus overall number-one ranked team in the state, Hancock, was the second seed in its own region tourney and Harrison Central, one of the most traditionally well-respected girls’ basketball teams in the state finished as the fourth seed in this league.
Plus, the Lady Hawks now must beat the loser of Tuesday night’s Gulfport-Harrison Central game in the consolation game on Thursday night to qualify for the Class 6A state playoffs or their magical season will come to a sudden halt.
On Monday, in the third game of the season between the two league foes, Biloxi, after losing the first two games against Hancock this season, led almost throughout the entire contest. The Lady Indians were up by one, at 8-7, after the first frame thanks to a 3-pointer by Amari Meredith and then Biloxi got three field goals from senior standout forward Shaneal Corpuz in the second stanza to take yet another one-point lead into halftime at 17-16.
It was in the third quarter that Biloxi took command of the contest, and to no one’s surprise it was thanks in large part to the play of the versatile Corpuz.
Corpuz tallied 10 of Biloxi’s 12 points in the period, as the Lady Indians defense turned up the heat as well and held the usually high-flying Hancock offense to just four points in the quarter and turned that one-point advantage at intermission into a 29-20 lead entering the fourth period.
From there, Biloxi held Hancock at bay through the rest of the contest thanks in part to nine more points from Corpuz as she registered three more field goals and also sank three key free throws in the final minutes of play.
Corpuz poured in a game-high 25 points to guide Biloxi to the big win, one that assures the Lady Indians will begin the Class 6A state playoffs at home in the Biloxi High Sports Arena. Eighth-grader center Zaniya Johnson added eight points to the winning effort and provided a big presence in the post for Biloxi both offensively and on defense.
Junior standout Brooklyn Cuevas was the only Lady Hawk in double digits finishing with 12 points. She was coming off a 19-point, six rebounds, and four steals effort in a 49-31 win vs Ocean Springs last week.
In the other game played Monday night in the Region 8-6A Tournament, Biloxi made it a clean sweep over Hancock on the evening as the Indians dispatched the Hawks for the third straight time this season with a 57-37 decision. The Dandy Dozen dynamic duo of James Turner and Duran Parish paced the Indians, as Turner tallied a game-high 18 points and Parish chipped in 15 points to the winning cause. Dayshawn Mcgee added 13 points for Biloxi as well.
The Indians now await the winner of Tuesday night’s Gulfport-Harrison Central game in the championship tilt Friday night. The loser of tonight’s game will meet Hancock Thursday in the consolation contest.