Laurel trailed Ocean Springs by five points with just over a minute to go at Gulfport on Tuesday, but the Lady Tornadoes’ press forced three turnovers as they outscored the Lady Greyhounds 6-0 the rest of the way to secure a 52-51 win.
The win put Laurel in Wednesday’s Lady Admirals Thanksgiving Classic championship game against McComb, which had little trouble advancing with a 61-44 win over Davidson.
The Lady Tornadoes’ win on Tuesday was much like their win in the first round Monday, when they came from behind in the closing minute. On Monday, senior Tamirra Haskin was fouled as she launched a jumper from behind the arc. She then sank her first free throw with no time remaining on the clock for the 57-56 win over host Gulfport.
On Tuesday, Haskin led Laurel with 17 points. Kristian Edwards added 15 points. Mikyah Mack led the Lady Greyhounds with 13 points, followed by Sophie St. Amant (12) and Dougless St. Amant (11).
The Lady Tornadoes’ press created problems for Ocean Springs down the stretch as they got into the passing lanes, made steals and capitalized with scores.
“We were a little sluggish to start off; we weren’t as focused,” Lady Tornadoes coach Alphaka Moore said. “But they were able to be calm in the press. We played smart and moved with the ball. We were able to keep our composure.
“I have to give it to Ocean Springs,” added Moore. “They did a really good job of using their personnel. They used their post player (Dougless St. Amant) really well. She was effective.”
McComb opened up a 17-0 lead against Davidson in the other semifinal game. Davidson responded with a 10-0 run, but could never keep up. McComb extended their lead as many as 24 points in the third quarter.
In the earlier games, Gulfport defeated Madison Central 43-20 and Biloxi defeated St. Martin 54-22. Gulfport was led by Nishiana Heard’s 10 points. Dalys Dobard led Biloxi with 11 points.
St. Martin will play Madison Central at 9 a.m. on Wednesday for seventh place. Gulfport takes on Biloxi at 10:30. Ocean Springs and Davidson play at noon. Laurel and McComb play at 1:30.