Both of Harrison Central’s basketball teams made deep runs in the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs a year ago, advancing to the quarterfinals in Jackson. The Red Rebels and Rebelettes appear to have reloaded for the 2017-18 season with an eye once again fixated on Jackson.
“We’re hoping to get back to Jackson and finish the deal,” said HCHS boys coach Boo Hardy, whose team opens the year ranked No. 1 by the Sun Herald. “That’s our expectation.”
With an all-state talent like Chyna Allen back to lead the HCHS girls, things haven’t changed for the No. 1 Red Rebelettes, either.
“That’s definitely our goal, to make a run at the state championship every year,” HCHS girls coach Nancy Ladner said. “We’re working hard every year for that challenge.”
Allen led HCHS with 15.9 points per game, 3.3 assists and 4.2 steals a year ago, earning All-South Mississippi honors.
“It’s going to be a big pressure on her shoulders to carry the team,” Ladner said. “We know (Allen) will be the one other teams are keying in on, so I do expect a bunch of the other kids to step up and help, too.”
Ladner pointed to fellow senior Da’Mia Henry, along with junior Yolanda Nelson, Olivia Brooks and Kiara Patterson, as players who will need to answer the call to take attention away from Allen.
With that group leading the way, Ladner hopes to run a typical Red Rebelettes team, built on defense and tempo.
“I think our quickness is going to be our strength,” she said. “We have a really good shooting squad, but I think our defense and quickness will lead our team.”
Perkins had a pretty eye-popping debut for HCHS in an overtime loss at Crystal Springs last weekend. The new Copiah-Lincoln signee scored 30 points with 28 rebounds. If that’s any indication of what to expect, opponents could be in for it when playing the Red Rebels.
“He had a monster game,” Hardy said of Perkins, who averaged 14.4 points and eight rebounds a year ago. “His leadership role is big for us, too. He just comes to play every time we step on the court.”
HCHS has the luxury of returning another experienced senior and All-South Mississippi selection in guard Dajon Whitworth, who scored at a 12.6 ppg clip as a junior.
“He’s going to be a big part of the equation,” Hardy said. “He was one of our top scorers last year and we expect him to do the same this season.”
Asked about players to watch, Hardy pointed to 6-foot-5, 215-pound center Carlous Williams. Only a freshman, he could be a game changer on both ends of the court if he adapts quickly to the varsity level.
“Most times when you have a ninth grader (on varsity) they have to be special,” Hardy said. “We think he fits that role.”
Hardy hopes senior Harmin Purdy and junior Karsen Wells can complement the aforementioned trio to complete a well-rounded lineup.
Sun Herald Boys Top 10
1. Harrison Central (29)
2. Gulfport (28)
3. Pascagoula (22)
T4. St. Martin (19)
T4. George County (19)
6. Biloxi (17)
7. Ocean Springs (9)
T8. Bay (6)
T8. Picayune (6)
T10. Pass Christian (4)
T10. Long Beach (4)
Receiving votes: Vancleave (2; 21-12)
Sun Herald Girls Top 10
1. Harrison Central (30)
2. St. Martin (27)
3. Biloxi (24)
4. East Central (20)
5. Bay (17)
T6. Ocean Springs (14)
T6. Pass Christian (14)
8. Gulfport (8)
9. Pascagoula (6)
10. West Harrison (3)
Receiving votes: Pearl River Central (1; 15-14), Moss Point (1; 18-10)