On the Coast's biggest stage of the basketball season, Bay High made a strong case to be considered No. 1 in South Mississippi.
The No. 3 Tigers thumped Sun Herald No. 1 Biloxi 36-27 Saturday night in the final game of Hoopsfest at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
“Since they were No. 1, we had to show them who is best,” Bay High junior Galen Smith III said.
Smith, known as “Tolu” to friends and family, poured in 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help the Tigers improve to 19-5.
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“He was dominant,” Bay High coach Randy McCrory said. “He played defense, rebounded and made free throws. He was active on the offensive side. He's really stepping up. We're challenging Tolu to be one of the best players in 4A.”
McCrory's squad took the court ready for a game that was set up as the marquee match of this year's Hoopsfest.
“I think they were looking forward to it since the first time I told them that we were going to play Biloxi,” McCrory said. “They were really kind of amped up, hyped up for the game. They had good focus. I think they wanted Biloxi, the No. 1 team in the Sun Herald. I didn't have to say too much to motivate them.”
Biloxi was physical with Smith, regularly fouling him to prevent easy baskets. Smith answered by making eight of his nine free throw attempts, including five of six in the fourth quarter.
“They were fouling heavy so I had to knock down free throws,” Smith said.
Bay High put together one of its better defensive performances of the season, outscoring Biloxi 9-0 in the second quarter to take a 17-9 lead into halftime. The Tigers held Biloxi's leading scorer, Fred Ramsey-Thompson, to just eight points.
“We were just being active in our zone, testing shots and blocked out,” McRory said. “That's what our game plan kind of was. You can't get a steal every possession, but we wanted to contest every shot and make them earn points.”
Dontavius Proby led Biloxi (17-4) with nine points.
Bay High has won four straight and six of its last seven as it prepares to close out the rest of its region schedule.
McCrory hopes Saturday's game provides a nice boost of momentum headed into the final two weeks of the regular season.
“We have confidence in this team being very good,” McCrory said.
Jaylan Wilson was the second leading scorer for Bay High with seven points.