High School Sports

Hoopsfest has big battle ahead, but won’t be a slam dunk

A battle of state basketball titans could offer a preview of a state final in the Big House, but the 2018 Hoopsfest is by no means a slam dunk. As in, no slam dunk competition this year.

Unbeaten Biloxi (17-0) will battle Meridian (17-1) in the event’s final contest at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Meridian is the defending 6A state champions.

The slam dunk competition won’t be a part of Hoopfest. Coast Coliseum executive director Matt McDonnell said the dunkfest has become too dangerous for participants and fans.

The tournament will still have a three-point contest, however.

Here are the games schedule:

▪ Moss Point vs. West Harrison at 10 a.m.

▪ D’Iberville vs. Pass Christian at 11:30 a.m.

▪ Picayune vs. St. Martin at 1 p.m.

▪ Pascagoula vs. Bay High at 2:30 p.m.

▪ Gulfport vs. Ocean Springs at 4 p.m.

▪ Harrison Central vs. Laurel at 5:30 p.m.

▪ Biloxi vs. Meridian at 7 p.m.

Biloxi is ranked No. 1 in the Sun Herald South Mississippi poll. The Indians are led by Dontavius Proby.

“I told my team in order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Indians coach Seber Windham said. “At the end of the day win or lose, playing Meridian will make us better.”

Harrison Central faces two-time defending 5A champion Laurel. The Tornadoes beat the Red Rebels earlier in the season.

“It’s a great matchup like all of the games are,” Red Rebels coach Boo Hardy said. “A game like this will help us prepare us down the line. They beat us earlier, hopefully we’ll have a chance to win.”

The three-point shooting contest finals will be held before the Biloxi-Meridian contest.

Advance tickets for Hoopsfest, which is in its 24th year, can be purchased at the participating schools for $8. Advanced tickets can also be bought at the box office for $10 and $11 on the day of the event.

Gulfport Athletic Director Bryan Caldwell is the event’s organizer. He and current Southeastern Louisiana coach Jay Ladner, a former St. Stanislaus coach, created the event in the mid-1990’s.

If you go

What: Hoopsfest 2018

When: January 27

Where: Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Tickets: Students $8 in advance; $10 and $11 at the door.