Some things never change — like Biloxi and Gulfport’s basketball teams playing to heart-stopping finishes.
Friday night’s rivalry game at Bert Jenkins Gym had the edge-of-your-seat finish — only about 60 points off the pace of the “good old days.”
No. 1 Biloxi held on Friday night to edge No. 4 Gulfport 32-28 on Seber Windham’s 44th birthday. The Lady Indians also rallied for a 40-38 victory.
“It’s funny. I tell my kids, when me and Owen (Miller) played against each other in high school the scores used to be 92-91 with his coach (Bert Jenkins) and my coach, coach (Jackie) Laird,” Windham said. “I don’t have the horses to do that anymore. Everybody rips me — ‘Coach, why you gotta play like that?’ That’s how we have to win. We have to play ugly.
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“We’re going to be the Memphis Grizzlies. Everybody wants to be Golden State. We can’t be Golden State — we’re going to be the Memphis Grizzlies and play old school basketball.”
Biloxi (16-3, 2-1) and Gulfport got off to a sluggish start. The host Admirals led 14-8 after the first quarter and 18-10 at halftime.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
Both teams traded shots to open the second half, with the Admirals (14-7, 2-1) eventually pushing their lead to 23-15.
Fred Ramsey-Thompson sparked the Indians with a long jumper and a step-back 3-pointer as the Indians closed the frame with a 10-0 run to hold a narrow 26-23 advantage.
Perhaps the biggest shot of the sequence, however, was the last one. Dontavius Proby caught a pass in the corner and put up a 3. The ball hit the front of the rim, arced into the air and down through the basket.
“It took them a while to get going,” Windham said. “They were a little nervous and a little bit scared, but when Fred knocked down that shot, it was like, phew, lets go play now. That’s basketball sometimes.”
Turnovers ultimately made the difference in the end as the homestanding Admirals gave the ball away 17 times.
“In the fourth quarter there were turnovers that led to layups and uncontested shots,” Miller said. “Defensively I thought we played fantastic. Fred made a couple shots but there weren’t a lot of clean looks. We beat them on the glass but we basically self-destructed in turning the ball over and not getting shots at the goal.”
Ramsey-Thompson scored a game-high 13 points. Miles Daniels led Gulfport with 11.
Biloxi returns to action Tuesday against Moss Point. Gulfport visits rival Harrison Central on Tuesday.
NO. 2 BILOXI GIRLS 40, NO. 3 GULFPORT 38: Gulfport (13-9) led rival Biloxi (15-7) for just over 30 minutes Friday night. The Lady Admirals dominated the first and third quarters, opening up double-digit leads in both frames. But the Lady Indians didn’t relent. Their in-your-face, full-court defense rattled the Lady Admirals at times, allowing the visitors to stay just close enough.
After Biloxi took its first lead of the night, 36-34, with 1:41 remaining, the two schools traded baskets down the stretch. Tied at 38-38, Biloxi’s Breanna Riley grabbed a loose ball at mid-court and didn’t hesitate. With three seconds remaining, Riley raced unhindered toward the basket and converted a buzzer-beating layup.
Biloxi’s players spilled onto the court following the buzzer, mobbing one another.
“When you compete, anything can happen,” new Biloxi coach Devin Hill said of the rally. “You never know how you can play until you’re forced to play hard.”
Riley later said she timed her shot and was more than confident she had enough time, even slowing up slightly under the basket to time her layup. Likewise, Hill was equally confident in his star, who finished the game with 25 points.
“I think Bre is the best athlete on the Coast and she runs like a deer,” Hill said. “When I looked up at the clock, she was at half court with three seconds. We run five-second sprints every day, so if she can go the full length in five seconds I know she go halfway in three.
“It was a layup and she don’t miss layups.”
Whitney Johnson led Gulfport with 11 points.