High School Sports

Coast teams seek survival in region tournaments

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 Pascagoula's Noel Jones and Darius Johnson(3) trap D'Iberville's Nick Jenkins during the second quarter of their Hoopsfest game at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Saturday Jan. 30, 2016.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD Pascagoula's Noel Jones and Darius Johnson(3) trap D'Iberville's Nick Jenkins during the second quarter of their Hoopsfest game at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on Saturday Jan. 30, 2016. SUN HERALD

The final Sun Herald Top 10 Poll of the 2015-16 regular season was largely unchanged heading into the district slate.

No. 4 Pass Christian (21-5) and No. 5 George County (14-6) each climbed one spot while No. 6 Biloxi (19-9) tumbled two spots.

Pascagoula (21-4) remained on top with No. 2 Gulfport (17-10) and No. 3 St. Martin (19-8) closely behind.

No. 7 Harrison Central (15-12), No. 8 Hancock (16-12), No. 9 Bay (18-7) and No. 10 D'Iberville (18-10) rounded out the boys poll.

Girls rankings

On the girls' side, No. 6 Ocean Springs (17-7) and No. 7 Gulfport (16-11) swapped spots, otherwise the rankings remained the same.

St. Martin (24-2) finishes the year on top, with No. 2 West Harrison (20-2), No. 3 Harrison Central (17-9), NO. 4 Bay High (19-6) and No. 5 Pascagoula filling out the top half.

St. Patrick (18-7) and Picayune (17-6) were tied for eighth, with No. 10 East Central (13-11) holding down the final spot.

Region tournaments

The Coast's teams all turned the page on the regular season and kick off their respective region tournaments this week.

South Mississippi's squads will be scattered throughout the region with Hancock (8-6A), D'Iberville (7-6A), Picayune (7-5A), St. Stanislaus (8-4A), Collins (8-3A), Lumberton (8-1A) all hosting tournaments beginning Tuesday. Gautier hosts the 8-5A tournament, which started Monday.

The top four teams advance out of the Class 1A, 3A and 4A region tournaments, while the top three teams move on in the Class 5A and 6A tournaments.

Warrior turnaround

One-time No. 1 team D'Iberville cooled quite a bit during region play, hitting a seven-game skid. But the Warriors righted the ship by winning their final two games, albeit against non-region foes Vancleave and Stone.

"I think that seven-game stretch we were really only blown out in only two (in a 21-point loss to GCHS and a 10-point defeat to Pascagoula)," DHS coach Lorenzo Wright. "I thought we played well, but came down to a possession or two where it could have gone either way."

In the long run, Wright hopes the seven-game stretch was a good learning experience for his team.

"It was our first time being ranked that high and with the expectations guys didn't really understand what it took," he said.

The Warriors don't get an easy game to start the region tournament, hosting No. 3 St. Martin at 8:30 p.m.

"It's going to be a challenge. Both teams were close (during the regular-season split) and could have gone either way," he said, discounting the potential impact of playing at home for the tournament. "I think it's going to come down to who is more prepared and who wants it more."

Lady Admirals

Gulfport girls coach Donny Fuller hopes his girls have a short memory after falling to Biloxi to conclude the regular season. The two rivals open the Region 8-6A Tournament against one another at 4 p.m.

"We split with Biloxi and now we're fixing to play them for the second time in, what, five days?" he said. "It will depend on which team shows up."

From this point on, each team will have to play its best or it'll be packing its bags for summer ball.

"You win and you advance," Fuller said of the Biloxi game. "If you lose you have your back against the wall on Friday and you don't want to be in that situation."

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