With a couple of big wins on senior night, the Harrison Central girls and boys will ride into the Region 8-6A tournament at Biloxi with No. 1 seeds.
The Red Rebel boys held off a late rally attempt by Biloxi for a 56-54 win on Friday night to improve to 17-7 overall and 5-1 in region play.
The No. 1 Red Rebelettes made it look easier with a 50-33 victory over the No. 2 Lady Indians and it seemed fitting that they finished off a perfect 6-0 mark in region play with a rare flawless performance at the free throw line.
The Harrison Central girls (18-3) converted on all 22 free throw attempts Friday night.
“It's never happened,” Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said. “When you shoot a small amount you can kind of consider that, but when you shoot 22 and make every one of them.
“The irony of it is when we went through the game plan today we didn't shoot free throws. We didn't get to that part.”
Harrison Central had hit only about 55 percent of its free throws entering Friday night's contest.
“We've been horrible,” Ladner said. “We're not consistent.”
Four different Red Rebelettes made their way to the line Friday night with Chyna Allen and Arie'Anna Norwood leading the way by both hitting all six of their free throw tries.
Allen led Harrison Central with 14 points and De'Asia McInnis pitched in 10.
Biloxi jumped out to a 10-6 led at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter, but Harrison Central responded with a 16-0 run to take charge.
“They were breaking our press a little bit,” Ladner said. “We weren't getting up on the traps like we needed to and we felt like playing them in a half court game was better for our part. I think it really worked out well. We played the game plan. We were just trying to stop them from getting the ball down the floor as fast as they could.”
Biloxi cut the Harrison Central lead to 38-31 with 2:04 remaining, but the Red Rebelettes closed out the game on a 12-2 run.
Breanna Riley led Biloxi (18-8, 3-2) with 14 points.
Harrison Central boys prevail
After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, senior guard Isaiah Steele provided the boost Harrison Central needed in the third quarter.
Steele provided eight third-quarter points and Harrison Central took its first lead of the game on two free throws by Anthony Barnett to make it 35-34 with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
No. 4 Harrison Central kept the run going in the fourth quarter, pushing its lead to 53-44 with 1:35 remaining.
However, a full-court press by Biloxi began to cause problems for Harrison Central with several late turnovers.
“I'm really the cool one,” Steele said. “I was trying to get my teammates to cool down and stay level headed. We were straight.”
A deep 3-pointer by Biloxi's Fred Ramsey-Thompson cut the Harrison Central lead to 55-54 with 24 seconds remaining.
Barnett answered by hitting 1-of-2 free throws with 6.9 seconds on the clock to give Harrison Central the 56-54 advantage.
A last-second shot by Ramsey-Thompson was off the mark, setting off a celebration in Lyman.
Steele finished with 16 points and Daquan Perkins had 15 for the Red Rebels.
“We've been waiting on it for a long time with Isaiah,” Harrison Central coach Boo Hardy said. “He is a really good player and he showed that he's a player tonight.”
Harrison Central is playing its best basketball late in the season, winning seven of its last eight.
“People have been doubting us all year,” Steele said. “We've been the underdog. At Harrison Central, it's us against the world.”
Ramsey-Thompson led No. 3 Biloxi (19-4, 3-2) with 11 points and Mike Burbidge added 10.