The first and only regular-season meeting of the year between perennial Class 6A prep boys basketball powers Biloxi and Pascagoula didn’t come until the current campaign was almost three months old,
But the showdown was well worth the wait.
Pascagoula’s Dorrian McMillian banked in a buzzer-beating 3-point shot from just shy of the mid-court stripe on the final play of the game as the Panthers nipped the Indians 68-66 Saturday night.
The long-awaited contest was the sixth and final game of the day-long Hoppsfest 2023 at the Biloxi High School Sports Arena. Pascagoula and Biloxi were scheduled to meet in mid-December, also on the campus of the Indians, but that game was canceled due to inclement weather issues and thus became the centerpiece of the first Hoopsfest to ever take place at Biloxi High.
Pascagoula actually led by double digits at one point in the first half, 28-17 early in the second stanza. But Biloxi battled back with 10 straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers by standout guard James Turner, and the teams eventually went into halftime tied at 32 apiece setting the stage for a tremendous second-half battle.
Turner then nailed another trey in the waning moments of the third frame to break a 50-50 tie and put the Indians up 53-50 entering the fourth period.
In the final minute of play, Biloxi Dandy Dozen swing man Duran Parish nailed a pair of free throws with 28 seconds to play to give the Indians a 64-63 lead, but Pascagoula’s Kelan Rich countered with a pair of free throws himself to return the lead to the Panthers at 65-64 with 17 seconds to go.
On Biloxi’s net possession, Turner fed a pass to Dayshawn Magee in the lane and Magee converted on the short shot to seemingly give the Indians a 66-65 win with three seconds to play. But McMillian took the inbounds pass from teammate Kam Davis in midair and landed squarely on his feet before launching the winning shot that bounded off the backboard and through the net as the final horn sounded sending the Panthers and their fans into a jubilant post-game celebration.
Markuese Grady paced Pascagoula in the big win with 20 points, while Kelan Rich supplied 14 points for the Panthers as well. The normally high-scoring McMillian was held to just seven points by Biloxi, but all of them came in the final frame including the climactic final shot.
Pascagoula moved to 19-6 overall with the exciting victory, while the Indians fell to 19-3.
Turner, also a Dandy Dozen selection, scored 11 points in each half to lead Biloxi with 22 points, while Beau Miles chipped in 14 points for the Indians and Parish added 11 points.
The Biloxi girls ensured at least a split of the proceedings as they opened the third and final two-game session of Hoopsfest with a commanding 56-17 win over the Pascagoula Lady Panthers. The win was the 20th of the season for head coach Devin Hill’s group and moves the Lady Indians to 20-6 overall on the season.
The Lady Indian dynamic duo of senior standout Shaneal Copuz and eighth grader Zaniya Johnson again combined to produce a stellar effort on the hardwood for Biloxi, as the pair combined for 22 points and 20 rebounds in the win. Both players tallied a game-high 11 points while Corpuz, who was selected to participate in the prestigious Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Prep Basketball Classic in March, posted a double-double by adding 11 rebounds and Johnson added nine boards to the winning effort.
Both Biloxi teams travel to Moss Point Tuesday while both Pascagoula teams host Gautier on the same night.