Ocean Springs’ boys basketball team continually found itself trailing opponents during the summer circuit, only to rally down the stretch. It’s not the desired recipe for a victory, but a win’s a win.
Early this year Ocean Springs found itself in a similar predicament, down big to perennial contender in Gulfport. The Greyhounds, having repeatedly faced similar climbs before, regrouped and ultimately beat the Admirals 81-71.
Only the second game of the season, coach Matt Noblitt said it was a big early moment for his team, which enters the Thanksgiving week 4-1 and ranked fourth in the latest Sun Herald rankings.
“Last summer was good for us. We kind of discovered our style of play,” he said Monday. “When we came back in the fall we kind of had a game plan of how we were going to attack opponents.”
Without any real size this year, Noblitt said his team unleashes a combination of speed and aggression on opponents. So far, the results have been solid with the team’s only blemish coming in the form of a 63-60 defeat in the opener to Pearl.
“Any coach has to play with what you have,” Noblitt said of the team’s use of four guards and a forward. “It works really well for this group.
“Of course, when you have kids who can score like that, it makes my life a lot easier.”
Seniors Malcolm Magee and Ryan Black have led the attack for OSHS, averaging 20.8 and 19.8 points respectively. Magee is also averaging 11.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.3 steals, while Black is rebounding at an 8.3 clip with 3.3 steals.
“The great thing about it is they’re really good leaders,” Noblitt said of the duo. “They come in and work hard and push the other guys.
“It all goes back to those kids being super competitive. They’ll do whatever it takes.”
Noblitt said Magee has proven himself to be a real leader for the Greyhounds.
“He’s just a warrior. Every night he comes out and battles,” Noblitt said. “He’s not the biggest kid; he’s about 6-foot but rebounds like he’s 6-5.”
Noblitt called Black one of the best shooters he’s seen.
“When he gets hot from 3 it’s kind of amazing to watch sometimes,” he said.
The team’s “center” is 6-foot-2 senior Will Evans. Although he’s certainly not the tallest player on the Coast, Noblitt says he’s embraced his forward role on the team and is averaging eight rebounds a night.
“He loves it. He loves to get in there and be an agitator. He likes that he’s smaller than everyone else,” Noblitt said. “He has a big wingspan so he makes up for some of his height because of that.”
Senior Lance Wright and sophomore Darien Wallace round out Ocean Springs’ starting five, with Jaydon Collins the first off the bench.
Wallace, Evans, Collins and Wright all provide nice scoring depth for the Greyhounds, averaging 7.5, 6.0, 5.5 and 5.3 ppg respectively.
“I think we can play with just about anybody, we just have to stay healthy,” Noblitt said. “We just try to play hard.”
Big week ahead
While many of the Coast’s basketball teams are getting together to play in holiday tournaments, the Greyhounds are taking their act on the road to Lakeshore, Louisiana.
The Greyhounds played Northshore (Slidell, Louisiana) Monday night and will then play Dallas’ Roosevelt on Tuesday and the host Titans on Wednesday.
Noblitt said the three-day “road trip” will allow his players to focus on themselves.
“I think it’s good for them to get away and play teams they haven’t seen before,” he said. “It’s just good to play against different competition.”
Sun Herald Boys Top 10
1. Harrison Central (30)
2. Biloxi (27)
3. St. Martin (23)
4. Ocean Springs (21)
5. Gulfport (17)
6. Picayune (16)
7. Pascagoula (13)
T8. Stone (5)
T8. Gautier (5)
10. Long Beach (4)
Dropped out: George County (3; 1-4; 9), Bay (1; 0-2; 8), Pass Christian (0; 0-4; 10)
Sun Herald Girls Top 10
1. Harrison Central (30)
2. St. Martin (27)
3. Hancock (22)
4. East Central (21)
5. Gulfport (20)
6. Ocean Springs (13)
7. Pass Christian (11)
8. Picayune (10)
9. Long Beach (7)
T10. Biloxi (2)
T10. Bay (2)