BILOXI - Aarmanii McDaniel dominated in the low post Thursday and Gulfport hit some key free throws in the fourth quarter as the Lady Admirals held off Bay High 52-47 in the opener of the Lady Indians Basketball Tournament at the Biloxi Sports Arena.
McDaniel, a 5-foot-10 senior, scored a game-high 16 points as Gulfport improved to 2-1 while Bay High, the Class 4A state girls runner-up last season, fell to 0-2.
"She (McDaniel) was big in the paint,'' Gulfport girls coach Donny Fuller said. "She got some big rebounds and scored. Another key I thought was we shot free throws. We were 7-for-9 at the free throw line and a lot of those came down the stretch.''
Two of the bigger free throws came when Bay High shaved the Gulfport lead to 47-41 with 3:11 left in regulation. Quentella Jackson promptly hit both of her free throws with 2:46 left to push the lead back to 49-41.
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Gulfport led 14-7 after the first quarter, 26-17 at halftime and 37-26 after three quarters. Gulfport's Amyjah Hardnett hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter to push the Lady Admiral
lead to 40-26. She had eight points as did teammate Alexis Marsh.
But then Bay High made its move. Senior Aerion Dority hit a pair of treys and junior Amari Pittman added another to ignite a rally. Bay eventually shaved the lead to 51-47 with 53 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Jamaya Galloway but could get no closer.
Dority and Pittman each scored 11 points and Galloway added 10.
"It's always good to win, especially against a quality team like Debbie Triplett's Bay High team,'' Fuller said. "but we have to get better. One of the quality things we have is that we have a lot of depth. We played 12 tonight.''
"We had some opportunities,'' Triplett said. "We are not rebounding on defense and we are getting one shot on offense. We are not rebounding on either end.''
Gulfport faces Moss Point in the three-day tournament Friday, while Bay High meets Long Beach.