The Biloxi High School basketball team’s perfect mark faces its greatest threat Friday night in Lyman.
The Sun Herald No. 1 Indians (18-0, 2-0) travel to take on No. 2 Harrison Central (10-5, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in a game that has major implications in Region 8-6A.
Also, whoever wins will have the right to proclaim themselves as the No. 1 team on the Coast, at least until the two teams meet again at Biloxi on Feb. 2.
“They say they can beat us. We say we can beat them,” Biloxi guard Dillyn Neely said. “The better team will win Friday.”
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Harrison Central enters the contest on a six-game winning streak, including a 63-54 win over Gulfport a week ago.
“We try to take it one game at a time, but it is important. Whoever wins is seeded first in the division,” Harrison Central coach Boo Hardy said. “Whoever wins this game will be in good shape.”
Harrison Central is led by the talented senior duo of guard 5-foot-10 guard Dajon Whitworth and 6-foot-4 forward Daquan Perkins.
Whitworth has proven the closer for the Red Rebels this year, consistently finishing off victories with key baskets. Perkins regularly puts up double-doubles in the post.
Biloxi is a deep squad that’s undoubtedly the best shooting team on the Coast.
Neely’s addition to the lineup is one of the main reasons that Biloxi is off to such a hot start. The transfer from D’Iberville leads the team in scoring at 15.1 points a game and is hitting 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers. Of his 93 buckets this season, 57 of them are from behind the 3-point arc.
Jordan Montgomery (43.1), Dontavius Proby (34.0) and Roshaun Jones (37.9) are also hitting 34 percent or better on 3-pointers this season.
Proby, a 5-foot-8 junior, ranks second on the team with an average of 11.8 points a game.
“I’ve seen them play twice and both times they shot the ball extremely well,” Hardy said. “We can’t afford to leave any of those guys open.”
The reliance on the outside shot has been a significant change for Biloxi head coach Seber Windham.
“The last two years we had more of a presence inside with (Fred Ramsey-Thompson and Mike Burbridge),” Windham said. “Now, we’ve got our best guys on the perimeter scoring-wise. I’ve gone from inside-out to outside-in. It’s a little bit different, but we’ve got to play to our strengths.”
Along with a bevy of guards that can shoot, Biloxi has a good presence in the frontcourt with 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior Robert Finklea leading the way. The East Central Community College signee has blocked 24 shots this season and is averaging 4.9 rebounds a game.
A week after beating Gulfport in front of a large crowd, Hardy expects an even larger gathering in Lyman Friday night.
“People know what’s on the line as far as seeding in the division,” he said. “It’ll be a packed house. They’ll see two pretty good teams play basketball.”
Harrison Central began the season as the Sun Herald No. 1 and the favorite to represent the Coast’s Class 6A contingent in Jackson this year, but Windham’s squad is the team with the target on its back thanks to the unbeaten mark.
“They definitely circled the calendar for this one and we circled the calendar on this one,” Windham said. “Coach Hardy is one my best friends, we played college ball together. I’m always rooting for him when he’s not playing against us. I guess it’s a nice healthy rivalry.”
Who: Biloxi vs. Harrison Central
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Harrison Central