High School Sports

The Coast's best basketball teams meet in Hoopsfest

Video: 2015 Slam-Dunk contest at HoopsFest Biloxi -- from four angles

Four camera angles capture the action as South Mississippi and Alabama high school players compete Video by John Fitzhugh/Sun Herald
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Four camera angles capture the action as South Mississippi and Alabama high school players compete Video by John Fitzhugh/Sun Herald

The Coast's biggest basketball tournament of the year takes place Saturday when Hoopsfest tips off at the Coast Coliseum.

The games gets underway at 10 a.m. when East Central makes its first appearance ever in the event when it takes on Ocean Springs.

Six more games follow with Riverside (La.)-Gulfport serving as the final game of the day at 7 p.m.

Hoopsfest always stands out as an event that the Coast basketball community looks forward to.

"To our guys, it's really just an honor to be in it," Pascagoula coach Ron Norman said. "Everybody on the Coast is there. Kids take pride about going over there and playing in the coliseum. It's a big deal to our kids. We use it as a precursor to get to the state tournament. That's the type of arena you will play in."

Action will wrap up at the coliseum with 3-point and dunk contests set to begin at 8:30 p.m.

Norman's No. 2 Pascagoula squad (16-4) will play in one of the more intriguing games of the day against No. 3 D'Iberville (16-7) at 2:30 p.m.

The Panthers will have to find a way to slow down D'Iberville senior point guard Zach Scales, who is averaging 19.5 points a game this season.

"He's quick as a hiccup," Norman said. "We just have to find a way to guard him. He's just so quick with the basketball and a very skilled scorer. On every film we've gotten, nobody stays in front of him. We have to find a way to contain him."

Gulfport will have its hands full in the final game of the night against a talented Riverside team.

Riverside shooting guard Malik Crowley, who stands 6-foot-4, has verbally committed to play basketball for Virginia Commonwealth.

"They have a great tradition and a very good program," Gulfport coach Owen Miller said of Riverside. "We have to play very well to have a chance."

Gulfport is ranked No. 1 this week by the Sun Herald with a record of 15-7 headed into Friday night's game against Harrison Central.

The Admirals have shown improvement on offense of late with several different players pitching in on that end of the court. Junior Keevon Oney leads the Admirals in scoring at 9.9 points a game.

Raekwon Murphy, Carlos Terrell and Tyrell McCarthur have also proven capable of carrying the load on offense.

"It gives you a chance," Miller said of having several scoring options. "So many times when you rely on one player, you don't have as good chance as win. We haven't had that issue. We've had guys step up night in and night out.

"Obviously, we need Kevon to score the ball. He has found his rhythm. He's long and quick and he's a good shooter. His confidence has grown and grown. We'll need a good night from him."

Pass Christian coach Buddy Kennedy, who serves as one of the event's organizers, will his lead No. 6 Pirates (16-5) against No. 7 Biloxi (13-7) in the 4 p.m. contest.

The game will serve as a rematch of the Dec. 15 game at Pass Christian, which Biloxi won 48-45.

"It's certainly going to be a big challenge for us," Kennedy said. "When I make the Hoopsfest match-ups, I like to take care of everybody else best I can and I get what's left. (Biloxi) definitely wouldn't be somebody I would always pick for myself. It's going to be a big challenge."

Six-foot-3 senior forward Jalen Peters has been Pass Christian's top scorer this season, averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.

Pass Christian will look to find a way to contain Biloxi junior forward Fred Ramsey-Thompson, a good shooter who is averaging 14.9 points a game.