Harrison Central coach Boo Hardy wanted his East team to have some fun Wednesday in the senior edition of the 2017 South Mississippi All-Star Showcase.
Fun was abundant on the visiting side of the Biloxi court as the East rained down 14 treys on the West en route to a 96-73 victory.
The All-Star Showcase, which features players from the Coast, resumed Thursday at Biloxi High School with the underclassman games.
“At practice, I told my players they were a little bit bigger than we are,” Hardy said. “We had a team full of guards and we wanted to run with them.”
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Behind MVP Noel Jones, who scored eight points in the first quarter and connected on two 3-pointers, the East got out to a big lead early, 29-16 at the end of the first quarter. The East never let up with Hardy using a strategy of substituting five players at a time to keep his squad fresh.
“We wanted to score big and give the crowd a show,” he said. “I hope the crowd enjoyed the show.”
Led by Gulfport’s Miles Daniels with 17 points, six East players reached double figures on the night. Jones, from Pascagoula, and St. Martin’s Da’Quan Gaudin scored 15 points each. Gulfport’s Keevon Oney added 11 points with Harrison Central’s Anthony Barnett and Pass Christian’s Aydarius Young each adding 10 points.
Long Beach’s Monta Davis scored 21, Ocean Springs’ Jordan Brack scored 20 points to lead the West. Biloxi’s Michael Burbridge added 10 points. Stone County’s Landon Arnold scored eight points.
In the girls’ game, the East prevailed 71-66.
East players connected on five of seven free throws in the last two minutes to seal the win. The West, though, converted only one of four free throws and one of six field goals, although the made field goal was a Morgan McCrea trey that brought the West to within two, 68-66, with 1:15 left to play.
The West went into the half leading 32-31. However, Gulfport’s Amyjah Hardnett scored 10 points in the third quarter to help the East take a 58-51 lead going into the fourth quarter to win the MVP tournament.
“It means a lot to me,” said Hardnett, who signed Tuesday with Bishop State. “It’s the result of a lot of hard work put in over the years.”
“It’s just a fun game,” said LSU signee Jalin Cherry, who led the East with 24 points. “It’s the last high school game. It felt good putting on that (Pascagoula) uniform one more time.”
Harden finished with 16 points for the East. Pass Christian’s Dayshia Deadeaux added 11 points. Ocean Springs’ Dougless St. Amant scored nine points.
Bay’s Amari Pittman led the West with 16 points. St. Patrick’s McCrea connected on four 3-pointers for 12 points. D’Iberville’s Casey Ferguson added 11 points. Biloxi’s Breanna Riley just missed double figures with nine points.
“It’s one last game for the girls,” said Long Beach’s Jed Kanengiser, who coached the East team. “They get to show their ability one last time in front of a crowd. The (Showcase) means more girls get recognized for their hard work.”
Biloxi coach Seber Windham and St. Martin coach Charlie Pavlus started the Showcase to feature players who might not make the Mississippi All-Star game or the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game.
“Sometimes you wouldn’t have any players from the Gulf Coast or South Mississippi south of Hattiesburg,” Windham said. “This is a great experience for these seniors.”
Despite the game being played at the end of the school year, Pavlus felt players in the Showcase still had a chance to earn a chance to play college basketball.
“There are a lot of coaches who are looking to fill roster spots,” Pavlus said. “This gives the coaches the ability to see the coaches outside their high school systems.”