The George County boys basketball team took full advantage of its first Hoopsfest game in over a decade on Saturday.
The No. 4 Rebels held off No. 5 Gulfport for a 48-45 win, ending a two-game skid behind 15 points from junior Jaquan Hawkins at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
“I thought it showed a lot of character by our guys coming off a tough (75-72 loss to D'Iberville) in district,” George County coach Ron Renfroe said. “For our guys to turn around like that and play a quality team like Gulfport showed character. We'll keep working on the mental mistakes we made, but I'm proud of our effort.”
Trailing 47-45 with 10.3 seconds left, Gulfport had a chance to tie or take the lead. However, a layup try by Chad Crenshaw was off target and George County's LaMarkus Hayes came up with the rebound under the basket.
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“We had a great shot to tie it up,” Gulfport coach Owen Miller said. “That's what we drew up. It just didn't go in. Chad feels awful, but that just happened to be the last play of the game.”
Miller pointed to a pair of mistakes late in the third quarter as playing a big role in the outcome – Evans Moore was called for a technical for hanging on the rim and George County star LaRaymond Spivery was fouled on a desperation 3-point try as time ran out in the third. Spivery converted on two of three free throws to make it 30-22 in favor of George County headed into the fourth quarter.
Gulfport played without 6-foot-6 junior forward Dequarius McCord, who is suspended for the rest of the season for academics.
“If you're going to play at Gulfport, you're going to be a good student,” Miller said. “Right now, he's not a very good student. That's why he wasn't in the game.”
Gulfport started out cold, hitting only one shot from the field in the first 7:56 of the game on a 3-pointer by Juan Irias at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter.
Gulfport managed to cut the George County lead to 10-6 after one quarter on a late basket by Moore.
George County pushed its lead to 16-9 on a basket by Cameron Hartfield with 3:04 remaining in the first half.
Gulfport responded with a 5-0 run to close out the first half, cutting the Rebels' advantage to 16-14 at the half.
George County made just enough plays down the stretch to pull off the win.
“It feels pretty good,” Hawkins said. “We stayed strong and put those games behind us. We just came out and came on with it.
Spivery finished with 14 points for George County (17-4) and Cortez McCarty pitched in 10.
Miles Daniels led Gulfport (14-9) with 11 points. The Admirals have lost three consecutive games.