Harrison Central picked a poor time to hit a scoring drought Saturday night at Hoopsfest.
The Red Rebels managed just 2 points in the final 4:28, falling 62-58 to two-time Class 5A state champion Laurel at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.
Cameron Jones, a junior point guard, scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Tornadoes.
“It's the best game he's had since we've had him,” Laurel coach Marcus Price said. “We're teaching him to be a point guard and a scoring point guard. A lot of times it's difficult to run the team and to still get your own shot, but tonight he did a good job of distributing the basketball and scoring when we needed him to. If it wasn't for him tonight and our whole team effort we would have been in trouble.”
Laurel, which also beat Harrison Central 65-54 on Dec. 15 in Lyman, improved to 17-5.
Sun Herald No. 1 Harrison Central dropped to 14-7.
Dayquan Perkins led Harrison Central with 22 points and Dajon Whitworth pitched in 19 points.
Harrison Central closed out the first half on an 11-4 run to take a 33-29 lead at the half, but Laurel gradually began to chip away at the advantage in the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter, Laurel led 47-46 for its first lead since the 4:34 mark of the second quarter.
The Wildcats took the lead for good at 50-49 with 7:03 left following a jumper by Jones.
“In the second half, they kind of beat us up on the boards and got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Harrison Central coach Boo Hardy said. “Laurel is a good team. They're defending state champions two times in a row. We'll go back to practice Monday and get better for next week.”
Meridian 48, Biloxi 40
In a battle of two one-loss teams, Meridian's size advantage proved to be too much for Biloxi to overcome.
Meridian, which is the defending Class 6A state champion, pulled away for a 48-40 win over Biloxi Saturday night thanks to some hot shooting from Miles Miller in the third quarter.
Miller hit three consecutive three pointers midway through the third quarter to allow Meridian to build a 39-26 lead at the 4:17 mark. Biloxi managed to narrow the margin, but the much bigger Wildcats (25-1) proved too tough down the stretch.
“He does what he's supposed to,” Meridian coach Ron Norman said. “He was a little frustrated early, wasn't scoring. They paid a lot of attention to him. I told him it doesn't have to be a 30-point night for you to be our best player on the floor. That 9-point run was the difference in the ballgame. It was a great game between two really good games.”
Miller led the Wildcats with 15 points and Tyron Brewer put in an impressive high-flying performance for 12 points.
It was a tight first half with Meridian leading 14-12 after one quarter and 24-23 at halftime.
Norman, who coached at Pascagoula prior to arriving at Meridian in 2016, was not surprised by the low-scoring contest.
“When (Biloxi coach Seber Windham) and I play, it's like a playoff game,” Norman said. “It may be a preview of the (Class 6A tournament in Jackson). In a playoff game, it's possession by possession. This game was possession by possession. We've got to find a way to win by any means.”
Biloxi senior guard Dillyn Neely, who edged Ocean Springs' Ryan Black in the Hoopsfest 3-point contest, finished with a game high of 16 points. Dontavius Proby was the only other Indian in double digits with 10 points.