By Doug Barber / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Gulfport senior center Eddie Lee dominated the paint Tuesday
night as the Admirals knocked off Meridian 61-55 in a heavyweight South
State Class 6A playoff matchup.
Lee scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Admirals (28-3) advanced to a semifinal contest against St. Martin on Friday night at 7:30 at St. Martin. Several times the exuberant Lee celebrated his driving baskets with a fist pump.
Meridian (23-7) played without post player Dennis Miles.
“Their big kid has an issue so we took advantage of that,’’ Gulfport coach Owen Miller said. “Randy Bolden is one of the outstanding coaches in the state. They tried to trap us and press us, and they had to play some small ball. They gave us problems in the first half. We made some adjustments and got some easy baskets, and I thought that was the difference.’’
Gulfport led 49-43 to open the fourth quarter. Twice Meridian got within three points — at 49-46 and 51-48 — but guard Jamal Jones answered with a pair of baskets along with making some key defensive rebounds.
“He got some good looks, and jumped up and shot them in,’’ Miller said.
Jones scored 11 points while Jahshire Hardnett dished out nine assists.
Turloft Taylor led Meridian with 15 points. Devonte Brewster added 14 points and Jordan Andrews 13.
“I wanted to help my team win,’’ Jones said. “We are trying to get the ring.’’
Gulfport led 31-22 at halftime, with Lee scoring 19 points during the first two quarters.
“We had a big advantage in the post,’’ Lee said. “Their big kid didn’t play. We came out, hit them in the mouth and we took advantage. Jamal had some big baskets. He had a rough time at first but he came back in with his mind focused and he was ready to play.
“I was very excited. This was a big game. It was win or go home.’’
The game was tied four times and Meridian took its last lead of the night early in the second quarter at 16-15.
“I think this game was a game of momentum,’’ Meridian coach Randy Bolden said. “They would make a run, and we would counter with a run. I knew it
would come down to the last few minutes of the game. Gulfport did a good job at the end of finishing out. Give our guys credit. We battled. I thought they left it all on the court.’’