High School Sports

From media legends to football stars, Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame announces Class of 2018

Gulfport High School head coach Bryan Caldwell poses inside Bert Jenkins Gymnasium just prior to its completion.
Gulfport High School head coach Bryan Caldwell poses inside Bert Jenkins Gymnasium just prior to its completion. Sun Herald file

The Gulfport Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 is stocked with some of the most prominent media names to ever grace the Coast and plenty of accomplished athletes.

Former Sun Herald reporter Doug Barber and WLOX veteran broadcaster A.J. Giardina are in this year’s 14-person class, bringing more than 80 years of experience in covering sports along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Also on the list are Harrison Central women’s basketball legend Andrea Morgan and current Gulfport High School athletic director Bryan Caldwell.

This year’s ceremony will take place on June 7 at the Lyman Community Center. For more information, send an email to wmprincejones@yahoo.com.

Here is the full list of honorees:

▪  Doug Barber: The longtime Sun Herald sportswriter covered every aspect of sports on the Coast for 33 years from 1981-2014. He was on hand for eight state championships by the Harrison Central Red Rebelettes girls basketball team and seven titles by the Gulfport boys in track. He covered a long list of Coast legends, including Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese, a Gulfport product, and Admirals basketball legend and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

▪  April Brown Barnes: A three-time state champion in girls basketball at Harrison Central, Barnes graduated in 1997. She was a standout at LSU, starting three years for the Lady Tigers. She was drafted by the Indiana Fever of the WNBA.

▪  Larry Benefield: A 1970 graduate of Gulfport High, he was All-Big 8 in football in 1969 and was also named MVP that year. He was part of the 1971 national championship team at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

▪  Jim Bradley: A 1975 graduate of Gulfport East, Bradley was an all-state selection in basketball that year as well. He played two years at MGCCC and finished his basketball career at Tennessee-Martin.

▪  Shelton Buckley: The former athletic director at North Gulfport was an all-conference selection in basketball at Alcorn State.

▪  Bryan Caldwell: The Gulfport High School athletic director coached boys basketball for the Admirals for 10 years. He won the 2002 Class 5A state championship. Caldwell also served as the head coach at Harrison Central for three years and coached basketball 19 years total.

▪  Donald “Duck” Evans: The graduate of 33rd Avenue High School in 1963 was a football standout at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The lineman was a four-year starter. He was named All-SWAC his senior season and was a Little All-American. He was drafted in the 14th round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

▪  Phil Freightman: A 1976 graduate of Gulfport East, Freightman was the Shrimp Bowl MVP that year. He played safety at Ole Miss and was a three-year letterman and two-year starter.

▪  A.J. Giardina: With 39 years as a sportscaster for WLOX-TV, Giardina has been a mainstay for sports fans on the Coast. He plans to retire after 40 years on the job this July. His sportscast won first place from the Mississippi Associated Press in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002. He was honored with the 1996 Lindsey Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in Sportscasting.

▪  Gary Holliman: A 1976 graduate of Gulfport, he started three years for the boys basketball team. He was on the Gulfport squad that finished 40-0. He played point guard at Xavier University in New Orleans.

▪  Tom Luke: The quarterback was a two-sport letterman in football and baseball at Gulfport High School. He graduated from Gulfport in 1988 and played quarterback at Ole Miss. He helped lead the Rebels to a 9-3 season and a spot in the 1990 Gator Bowl.

▪  Andrea Morgan: A member of two state girls basketball state champions at Harrison Central, Morgan graduated in 1984. She played at DePaul and is a member of the DePaul Athletics Hall of Fame. She held the DePaul record in three-point field goal percentage at .440.

▪  Charles “Chuck” Morris: A four-year letterman at Gulfport High School, he graduated in 1959. He played running back for four years at Ole Miss and was a member of two SEC title teams. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

▪  Brad Rhodes: A graduate of St. John High School, he lettered in four sports there. He was named an all-star in soccer, baseball and football. He kicked for the Maryland football team and was a 4-year letterman.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee