Owen Miller's Gulfport Admirals used a fourth quarter surge to beat rival Harrison Central 52-47 Thursday night in the semifinals of the Gulfport Hardwood Holiday Classic at Bert Jenkins Gymnasium.
The Admirals (10-5) will face a tough Meridian squad at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the title game.
Harrison Central led 37-26 with 1:07 left in the third quarter before Gulfport outscored the Red Rebels 26-10 the rest of the way.
A big reason Gulfport was able to rally is that it cut back on its turnovers while continuing to force Harrison Central into miscues. Gulfport turned it over 15 times in the first half and only twice in the second half. Harrison Central turned the ball over 22 times total, including 10 in the second half.
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Gulfport was especially aggressive on defense early in the fourth quarter, stealing the ball several times and regaining the momentum.
"We got our hands on balls," Miller said. "I thought we kept the penetration out of the paint. They were just driving us, getting in the paint and getting easy shots."
Gulfport took its first lead of the second half at 46-44 when Juan Irias hit a 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining.
Irias finished with a game high of 17 points. He has scored a total of 32 points through the first two games of the tournament.
"He gave us a lift like he did against Long Beach (Wednesday night)," Miller said. "I'm proud of him tonight."
Harrison Central coach Francisco Hardy will lead his team against Pascagoula in the 6 p.m. game on Friday at Bert Jenkins Gymnasium.
"I guess you want to say about for about 30 minutes out of 32 we were in control," Hardy said. "The last two minutes we sort of had turnovers and Gulfport capitalized on them."
The first half was a low scoring sloppy affair and Harrison Central led 23-19 at halftime.
The Red Rebels were still in good shape at 37-29 headed into the fourth quarter, but the Admirals finally began to make them pay for their mistakes.
"We finally converted, especially (Keevon Oney) in transition at the rim a couple of times," Miller said. "I thought we were getting good shots, but we couldn't make anything. We missed some bunnies around the rim. I told our guys that if we keep playing hard defensively, keep up the energy we'll start making shots."
Oney added 11 points for Gulfport and Dequarius McCord had eight.
Dajon Whitworth led Harrison Central with 14 points and Daquan Perkins had 13.