BILOXI – After the Sun Herald's No. 1 girls team narrowly survived on the road, the No. 1 on the boys side fell on its home court Friday night.
The No. 1 Harrison Central girls topped No. 2 Biloxi 41-39 in the first game and the No. 8 Red Rebel boys completed the sweep of No. 1 Biloxi 53-45 in the second contest.
The girls game featured plenty of drama in the late stages, but the Red Rebelettes (14-2, 3-0) found just enough offense in overtime to maintain their spot atop the rankings for another week.
"It was an excellent game," Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said. "It was a game we really needed. We haven't had a physical game like that all year. They have a brand new coach (Devin Hill) who has done a great job with them.
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"I don't think we did everything we needed to do, but we did everything needed to do to win. I'm super proud of the kids. They battled to the end. They didn't give up."
The second half proved to be a defensive struggle and Biloxi grabbed a 34-32 lead with 38.1 seconds remaining on a short jumper by Breanna Riley.
Harrison Central managed only two points in the fourth quarter, but both came on a crucial bucket by Yolanda Nelson with 23 seconds remaining to tie the game at 34-34 and send the game to overtime.
Junior guard Chyna Allen came up with a big steal and a layup at the 2:04 mark of overtime to give Harrison Central a 37-34 lead.
Biloxi's Anna Thigpen hit a 3-pointer as time expired, but it was too little, too late for the Lady Indians.
"Harrison Central is the No. 1 team on the Coast and has been the No. 1 team on the Coast," Hill said. "We actually looked at it different. We have nothing to prove. They've got to prove why they're No. 1. If we had anything to prove, it's to prove that we belong and we're making progress and strides in the right direction. I think we proved that tonight."
Nelson led Harrison Central with 12 points and Arie'Anna Norwood added 11.
Riley led the Lady Indians (13-7, 1-1) with 15 points.
The Red Rebelettes again appear a team capable of making a run at a Class 6A state title, but Biloxi may be one of the most improved girls squads in the state this season after going 11-17 a year ago.
"(Harrison Central is) a defensive ball club that scores a lot of points based off their defense. That's what we want to be," Hill said. "We're still a work in progress. That's a staple in her system. I think that was the difference in the game. We're still growing in what we want to get accomplished. They were very comfortable in what they want to do.
"But now we know that we can play with them."
Harrison Central boys close strong
The Harrison Central boys (13-7, 2-1) had lost four of their previous six games entering Friday's game, including an 80-70 loss to Gulfport on Tuesday.
The win over Biloxi was a crucial one for Harrison Central's standing in the region and it ended a seven-game winning streak for the Indians (14-3, 1-1).
"We definitely needed that one," Harrison Central coach Francisco Hardy said. "Being that we had lost our district game against Gulfport, that was one we really needed."
Biloxi had one of its worst shooting performances of the season Friday night. The Indians managed to hit just five shots from the field in the second half compared to 13 by Harrison Central.
"We tried to take their leader of out of the game, Fred (Ramsey-Thompson)," Hardy said. "We tried to frustrate him all night. Artrell Petties did a great job on him."
Ramsey-Thompson was held to four points, well off his season average of 16.7.
Junior forward Dayquan Perkins had a big game for the Red Rebels, putting up a team high of 16 points. When the Red Rebels needed a spark, Perkins often provided it with a rim-rattling dunk.
"You have to give to the coaching staff," Perkins said. "Coach Hardy game planned all night and every day. We just followed the game plan and played together."
Dajon Whitworth also pitched in 13 points for Harrison Central, including six in the fourth quarter when Harrison Central began to pull away.
Biloxi built a 23-14 lead late in the first half, but Whitworth hit a 3-pointer as time expired headed into halftime.
Harrison Central built on that momentum in the third quarter and another last-second shot by Perkins gave his team a 31-30 lead entering the final quarter.
Biloxi managed to force a couple of late turnovers, but little else went right for the Indians in the late stages of the game.
Martell Turner led Biloxi with 19 points and Mike Burbridge added 12.