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Three in a row: Harrison Central books another trip to Jackson with 56-41 win over Gulfport

After losing 11 in a row, the Red Rebelettes have fought their way back to the Big House

POPLARVILLE — For the third year in a row, Harrison Central is headed back to the Big House.

Powered by a strong start and paced by stars Anaisha Carriere and Demetria Walls, the Red Rebelettes raced past Region 8-6A rival Gulfport 56-41 in the Third Round of the MHSAA Girls Class 6A playoffs at Pearl River Community College’s Marvin White Coliseum on Saturday night.

Harrison Central (20-13) will face Germantown (27-2) in the Semifinal Round of the Class 6A playoffs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at the Mississippi Coliseum.

MORE: Updated MHSAA Girls Basketball Playoff Brackets

“We wanted to jump out on them quick and that’s what we did," Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said. "We were able to follow our game plan. We did an excellent job defensive-wise and switching defenses back and forth. Just got a big lead and held on to it.”

Gulfport scored the game’s first basket by Micah O’dell, but the Red Rebelettes went on a 18-0 run take a 18-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

MORE: Saturday's MHSAA Girls Basketball Playoff Scoreboard

The second quarter was more competitive. Gulfport went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to down to seven at 24-17, but Harrison Central scored the last two buckets of the quarter to take a 28-17 lead into the halftime break.

Gulfport cut it the lead to seven, at 35-28 in the third quarter, but the Reb Rebelettes went opened a 12-5 run in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 47-35. Carriere hit a three-pointer with 2:16 left to give Harrison Central a 50-35 lead and all but seal the game.

“It was big to get out to a fast start," Carriere said. "We came in and played as a team and our confidence was through the roof. Me and Walls play well together, and they couldn’t stop us. It’s big for us because a lot of people counted us out. We're trying to get back to the championship game and win it.”

Walls added 12 points for the Red Rebelettes. Harrison Central, which lost to Meridian in the 6A state title game last season, started the season 15-0 this year before suffering through an 11-game losing streak. The Red Rebelettes beat West Harrison the last game of the regular regular season, and they've won five out of six since.

“We battled and fought to the end," Ladner said. "And one thing for us is finishing games, and that’s what we did. During that stretch of losing 11 games we were making a lot of adjustments, and the girls came together as a team. We got to the championship game last year and got denied, and the girls don’t want that feeling this time.”

Micah O’dell had 16 points to lead Gulfport, while Madison O’dell added 13 points for the Lady Admirals (23-10).

“It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t make a bucket," Gulfport coach Marcus Price said."We picked the wrong night to be off. We accomplished a lot this year in my first year, so we'll learn a lot from this and will be back.”