With two starters returning to the lineup for the first time this season, it took St. Martin a quarter to hit their stride Monday at the Joe Barlow Thanksgiving Invitational.
But, when the Yellow Jackets hit their stride, they blew out Davidson 56-33 after leading at the half 23-11.
Tournament play continued Tuesday at St. Martin with Faith Academy meeting Baldwin County and Davidson playing McGill-Toolen in the loser’s bracket. St. Martin and Buckhorn played one of two winner’s brackets semifinals as did Gulfport and Biloxi.
The tournament wraps up Wednesday with the SMHS/Buckhorn winner playing the BHS/GHS winner at 7:30 p.m. for the championship. The aforementioned losers will play for third place at 6 p.m.
On the other half of the bracket, the Davidson/McGill-Toolen winner will play the Baldwin/Faith winner at 4:30 p.m., while the losers open the day at 3 p.m.
With Jaronn Wilkens out for illness and Jayce Franklin on the football team, St. Martin coach Charlie Pavlus noted that his team has struggled early at times to score. However, he said the return of Wilkens, who led the team in scoring over the summer, and Franklin should help the team find their scoring rhythm.
Monday, though, with twin Jaronn getting his first action, it was Jariyon Wilkens who led the Yellow Jackets, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Trez Kennedy added 11 points and four steals with Tim Downs getting seven points and dishing out five assists and Jaroon Wilkens also scoring seven.
“I’m happy to be where we are at,” Pavlus said. “All we need now is to get back in a groove.”
Tyrese Douglas led Davidson with 11 points.
In other games:
Biloxi 56, Baldwin County (Ala.) 21: The Indians used a baker’s dozen to route Baldwin County. Dontavious Proby led the 13-deep Biloxi scoring charts with 10 points and Jaylon Dennis added nine.
The blowout started early behind a pair of 3-pointers from Dillyn Neeley. Proby and Jordan Montgomery also connected from behind the line as Biloxi (7-0) took a 16-4 lead in the first quarter and easily cruised to the win.
Biloxi coach Seber Windham said he was happy with the place his team is at this early in the season.
“We are a young team,” he said, noting he lost 10 players to graduation last year. “We are playing a lot of players.”
Seber said he was still working on finding out who was going to be the primary players for Biloxi. However, Neely, a D’Iberville transfer who is averaging 16 points per game, and Proby, who is the lone starter back from last year and is averaging 15 points per game, have taken up a lot of the leadership slack, he said.
“They have been huge for us at the start of the year,” Seber said.
Sewel had 10 points for Baldwin County.
Gulfport 45, Faith Academy 43: Willie Rhines hit a 6-foot jumper from the left side of the lane with 2.6 seconds left in the game to lift Gulfport to survive Faith Academy 45-43.
Following a Rams turnover, the Admirals (2-1) got the ball back with 24 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 43 each. Gulfport worked the clock down to 10 seconds before running their play. However, when it appeared the Admirals would not be able to get a shot off against a tight Faith Academy defense, Gulfport coach Owen Miller called time with 5.5 seconds left, setting up an inbounds pass underneath the basket.
“We got what we wanted off the baseline inbound play,” Miller said.
And, what Gulfport wanted was to get the ball into Rhines’ hands just short of the basket. Rhines caught the ball and pulled up for the short jumper, converting the play and giving Gulfport the lead.
Still the Admirals had to survive one final shot by Faith (5-2). Dejonte Thomas took the inbounds pass in the Rams’ zone and quickly moved past the half-court line, launching a desperate shot that bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
Last year, in the Alabama Class 5A state championship game against Mae Jemison, Thomas hit a 3-point half-court shot to end the third quarter.
“It’s always good when you win,” Miller said. “We turned the ball over too many times tonight, but we found a way to win.”
However, Miller said the reason Gulfport won Monday was due to defense against last year’s Alabama Class 5A runnerups.
“I’m really proud of the way we played defensively,” he said.
Miller said the win will help the Admirals later down the road.
“This will help our confidence grow,” he said. “A game like this, we will sell to (our players) later in the year and remind them that we won on the last possession.”
Buckhorn 61, McGill-Toolen 53: Denver Jones got off to a slow start, not scoring until the second quarter, but got hot late, hitting 8-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter as Buckhorn pulled away late from the Yellow Jackets.
Manny Patrick scored 18 to lead McGill, but all came in the first half. Matthew McNeece added 10 points and Matthew Russ nine points for the Yellow Jackets.
Other boys action:
Pascagoula 64, E.D. White 47: D’Yasmond Booker scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Panthers improved to 3-2.
Vancleave 58, Simpson Academy 50: Kristopher Johnson scored 16 points, hitting 4-of-7 3-pointers. Jonathan Knight added 10 points for the Bulldogs (4-3)