BAY ST. LOUIS-- The top seeds in the Division 8-4A Tournament, the Moss Point boys and Bay High girls, both earned convincing victories Thursday to advance to today's title contests.
The Bay High girls held Poplarville to just two points in the final three quarters in a dominating 57-6 win in the semifinals. Bay, which is serving as the tournament host, will take on Pass Christian at 7 p.m. today in the title match.
Devin Booker scored a game high 34 points to lead Moss Point to a 63-53 victory over Bay High to advance to today's 8:30 p.m. boys championship contest against St. Stanislaus.
In the first girls game of the day, the early action indicated that Poplarville might put up a fight with Bay High leading 6-4 at the 5:09 mark of the first quarter.
However, the Lady Tigers answered with a 19-0 run to lead 25-4 with 5:01 left in the first half. The Hornets could only manage one second-quarter basket the rest of the way.
"We came into the game wanting to get better on defense and it gave us the opportunity to really be aggressive," Bay High coach Debbie Triplett said. "I think some of our defensive stops turned into points, fast breaks and some easy baskets. We needed to get our transition game going so it was a good game for that."
Vanderbilt signee Christa Reed led all scorers with 18 points and Triplett was pleased with the balanced effort she got out of her team on offense.
Jamaya Galloway added 11 points while Aerion Dority and Simone Jackson each had eight points.
"We're trying to keep it balanced so teams can't just try to stop (Reed)," Triplett said. "These other kids can shoot too, make some plays. If we get more balanced, hopefully that will help us down the road."
The Moss Point boys had more of a fight on their hands as Bay High kept the game within striking distance, but never quite pulled off the big run to tighten the contest down the stretch.
Booker took charge of the game early as he scored Moss Point's first 10 points and had 21 at the half with Moss Point (15-14) leading 31-24.
"It's the postseason now," Booker said. "I want to stay aggressive. Our main goal to was to get the win. I did whatever I had to do to get the win. That's what I'm trying to do."
Booker's shot went cold to start the second half, only providing a pair of free throws in the third quarter.
With Booker struggling, senior Lateriss Brown stepped it up with nine of his 11 points in the third quarter.
If players like Brown can step up their play in the postseason, Moss Point has a much better shot of advancing to Jackson.
"(Brown) is a guy that comes in and brings energy on defense and creates turnovers," Moss Point coach Melvin Booker said. "We use his length. It's something we can build on."
Melvin Booker didn't know which team his squad would be facing at the conclusion of his contest, but he believes his group can handle whatever is thrown at them by St. Stanislaus today.
"We've seen it all," he said. "It doesn't even matter. Whatever defense they have, we've seen it all."
Moss Point junior point guard Marcus Watson returned to action at the start of the third quarter on Thursday after he sat out eight quarters due to his ejection against Poplarville on Feb. 7.
While Moss Point pulled out the win Thursday, Watson's return is big for the Tigers.
"As you can can see, we struggled with ball handling," Devin Booker said. "We got it done, but with him out there, it's obviously a lift."
The Moss Point girls didn't fare as well as the boys Friday as Pass Christian topped the Lady Tigers, 63-36.
Pass Christian closed out the first half on a 22-4 run to grab a 27-15 lead at halftime. The Lady Pirates continued to pull away in the second half to set up today's title game with Bay High.
Aliyah Bell led Pass Christian with 26 points while Mary Millender and Dominique Barlow each had 10 points for Moss Point.
In the hardest fought game on Thursday, St. Stanislaus topped Pass Christian, 58-46.
A 3-pointer by Irby Dossett with 2:42 remaining gave SSC a 51-45 lead with 2:42 left, and the momentum stayed with the Rockachaws as they closed out the victory.
Jerrod Rigby led SSC with 21 points and Dossett had 15.
Colton Pavolini and DaShaun Singleton each had 10 points for Pass Christian.
In consolation games, the Moss Point girls play Poplarville at 4 p.m. today. The Pass Christian boys will take on Bay High at 5:30 p.m.