When things looked dim for the Gulfport Admirals in their 35th Adidas Holiday Classic opener with Long Beach, guard Juan Irias stepped to the forefront.
Irias scored 11 of his 18 points in overtime Wednesday as Gulfport outlasted upset-minded Long Beach 78-71 at Bert Jenkins Gymnasium. Long Beach was seeking its first win over Gulfport since a 67-65 win in 2009 and only its second win in boys basketball over Gulfport in school history.
“The game stayed in limbo to the very end,” Gulfport coach Owen Miller said. “We’re up 3 on that last possession in regulation and you don’t know whether to foul or not. We said ‘don’t foul’ and most of the time we’ve been right. But (Khalib Marks) made a long one, maybe 27 or 28 feet.
“We got down in overtime. But we executed better and got some easy looks, and won against a really good team.”
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Long Beach (6-8) led 40-39 after three quarters, then forced OT in the back-and-forth duel.
The Bearcats were up 69-65 with 1:56 in OT when Gulfport’s Derick Hall fouled out. But then Irias took control.
“I want to thank my teammates, we couldn’t have won without them,” Irias said. “You don’t want to lose in the Classic. We got stops in OT and you have to do that if you want to win a game like that.”
Hall finished with 23 points and Oliver McDowell had 15 for Gulfport (7-6).
Elliott Belino led Long Beach with 17. Calvin Johnson and Tim Duncan each had 11.
Harrison Central (6-5) jumped to an 18-4 lead but then had to hold on for dear life in a 72-68 win over Oak Grove. Dayquan Perkins scored the go-ahead basket at 68-66. He had 26 points while Dajon Whitworth had 23.
Noah Hayes led Oak Grove with 15.
Brother Martin (10-5) knocked off Picayune 58-51 in the opener behind Tyler Lally’s 13 points. Marvun Arnold led Picayune (12-2) with 20 points.
Jonas Burley had 28 points, Dyasmond Booker 27 and Jayden McCorvey 23 as Pascagoula (8-4) knocked off Laurel 89-78 in a run-and-gun Day 1 finale. Antwan Hatten had 18 for Laurel.