Powered by the talented Smith brothers, the Bay High boys made an early case to be considered the best basketball team on the Coast Tuesday night.
The Tigers, who are ranked No. 6 by the Sun Herald, thumped No. 2 Pascagoula 59-37 to improve to 2-0.
Galen Smith III and Galen Smith Jr. combined to pour in 33 points as Bay High gradually wore down Pascagoula in the second half. Galen Smith Jr. had 17 points and Galen Smith III added 16 points.
Galen Smith III, who is known as “Tolu” to friends and family, grew 4 inches in the offseason and now stands a sturdy 6-foot-9, 210-pounds as a junior. Galen Smith Jr., who is a senior, is listed at 6-foot-7, 200 pounds.
Bay High coach Randy McCrory described the progress for the Smith brothers from a year ago as “unbelievable.”
“They're gym rats,” he said. “They're the first ones in the gym and we've got to kick them out for the coaches to go home. It's amazing where they've come from February in the last game of the playoffs to where they're at right now. I'd be shocked if they didn't get better. They do things the right way. They're great kids, straight-A students.”
Bay High dominated the early going, jumping out to a 12-2 lead at the 1:36 mark, but Pascagoula responded with a 7-0 run to make it 12-9 with 6:17 left in the first half.
Bay High entered halftime with a 28-16 lead and Pascagoula got it back to single digits at 35-26 at the 2:43 mark of the third quarter, but that was as close as the Panthers would get the rest of the way.
Galen Smith Jr. took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring Bay High's first 9 points of the frame to give the Tigers a 53-35 lead with 4:27 remaining.
“We wanted it more,” Galen Smith Jr. said. “We came in as brothers wanting it and we were going to get it.”
Bay High also received healthy contributions from its backcourt with senior Chris Moody setting the pace with 12 points.
McCrory hoped Tuesday night's match with Pascagoula would provide a nice early season test and his players more than passed the challenge.
“I was telling people today that it's March in November for us,” McCrory said. “We want to be playing in March. It's hard to schedule games but we knew with Pascagoula we were going to be tested. It's a good experience.”
Pascagoula (2-1) was led by senior Noel Jones, who scored 14 points.
“(Bay High) killed us on the glass,” Pascagoula coach Lorenzo Wright said. “They were ready to play. Bottom line, we weren't. Their coach did a great job of getting his guys prepared and I didn't.”
BAY HIGH GIRLS 49, PASCAGOULA 48: The No. 1 Bay High Lady Tigers (5-0) beat Pascagoula (1-4) for the second time in a week with Taz Lewis hitting one of two free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining to provide the margin of victory.
Pascagoula senior guard Jailin Cherry, an LSU signee, missed a deep shot as time expired.
“We didn't rebound and turned the ball over too much,” Bay High coach Debbie Triplett said. “I thought Pascagoula played harder than we did most of the time.
“It's hard to play them twice in a week. That's a good little team and (Cherry) is such an offensive threat, hard to the guard.”
When asked how her team pulled it out in the end, Triplett pointed to a higher power.
“The Lord, I think,” she said with a laugh.
Senior point guard Jamaya Galloway led Bay High with 19 points and five steals. Dasha Barnes added 12 points.
Cherry led Pascagoula with 18 points and Alexis McBeath contributed 12 points.