Harrison Central put visiting Biloxi on its heels practically from the opening tip Friday night and never relinquished its advantage, dispatching the previously undefeated Biloxi 60-55.
Harrison Central’s victory halted Biloxi’s undefeated streak at 18 games and also toppled Mississippi’s final undefeated team.
“Everybody say they call them Golden State so we had to shut them down with our defense,” said HCHS guard Dajon Whitworth, who led all scorers with 25 points. “... We already knew they were (18-0), so we were really pushing to give them their first L.”
Biloxi wasn’t the only program that has been streaking lately. The victory in front of a rowdy capacity crowd marked Harrison Central’s seventh straight.
“The kids stuck together tonight,” HCHS coach Boo Hardy said. “We’re growing up and starting to mature as a team.
“We’re starting to take pride in defense and stopping people. That’s what’s getting us these wins.”
Biloxi (18-1, 2-1) brought its reputation of being a hot shooting team into Friday’s rivalry showdown, but the Indians struggled from 3-point range, only making four shots from behind the arc.
“That’s probably the worst shooting game we had all year,” Biloxi coach Seber Windham said. “A lot of credit goes to them, but we had some good looks, too, that we never miss and we missed tonight.”
With the exception of Biloxi’s six unanswered points to close the third quarter, Harrison Central (11-5, 3-0) did a good job of keeping the Indians from going on prolonged runs.
“What we wanted to do from the start is get up close to them and not let them shoot the 3-pointer,” Hardy said. “Watching them ahead of tonight we knew they’ve shot a lot of open 3s.
“We made up our mind we were going to get up and crowd them.”
Biloxi’s Dillyn Neely made the game’s first shot but HCHS proceeded to score the next seven points to set the tone and prompt an early timeout from the visitors. By the end of the first quarter the Red Rebels had built a 21-15 advantage and never trailed again.
The closest the Indians got to HCHS was 39-36 following two made free throws by Neely to close the third quarter, but the Red Rebels out-scored Biloxi 21-19 in the final frame to claim the victory.
“This means a lot,” Whitworth said. “We played them at home and usually we don’t like losing in our home gym. It was a big win.”
As for Biloxi, it will look to start another streak Monday when it hosts the Martin Luther King Jr. Classic.
“We don’t talk about it (the streak). Now w’re 2-1 in district and Harrison Central is 3-0,” Windham said. “It’s a great story but at the end of the day it’s just a number.”
Dayquan Perkins rounded out Harrison Central’s scoring leaders with 13 points. Neely and Dontavius Proby led BHS with 15 points. Jordan Montgomery added 11.
Harrison Central girls 59, Biloxi 29
Friday’s opener was a struggle for Biloxi (12-7, 2-1). From the opening tip, the Indians couldn’t find consistency in their offensive possessions, often dribbling out of bounds or missing their first shot and failing to claim the rebound. Harrison Central didn’t share the same issues and held a commanding 30-6 halftime advantage.
The Red Rebelettes (11-4, 2-1) didn’t let up in the second half, and held Biloxi under double digits until the waning moments of the third quarter.
The 59-29 victory tied Harrison Central’s best defensive performance of the year.
Harrison Central’s Yolanda Nelson led all scorers with 18 points. Shayla Price and Chyna Allen added 13 and 10 points respectively for HCHS. Shylia McGee led BHS with 10 points.