JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - It was fitting that legendary Gulfport High School coach Bert Jenkins and his long-time assistant Gerald Austin were in attendance. The duo guided the Admirals to 7 State Championships.
Coach Owen Miller was feeling good in the first half, Jahshire Hardnett bagged 18 points and helped propel Gulfport to a 31-22 halftime lead.
That lead would be extended to 46-30 midway through the third period, Dimitri Cook netted 11 points on the night.
Grenada would rally and the Admirals felt like a sailboat fighting high seas with ups and downs.
Grenada turned the tide by out rebounding the Admirals 40 to 28 and led 59-58 with 54.4 seconds remaining.
Gulfport didn't fold. Sophomore Jonathan Floyd knocked down 2 crucial free throws, Admirals held a one point lead.
Cook and Hardnett both connected on free throws down the stretch for the margin of victory. All that practice paid off.
Gulfport got the win and the Golden Ball... 64-59!
Hardnett said,"I didn't want to put my team going back crying, going back home a long bus ride back to the Coast
So I decided not to let it happen again."
Gulfport head coach Owen Miller played for Jenkins and won two titles back in the 1980's as a player.
"And to do it in front of my high school coach, coach Jenkins who won 7 state championships means everything to me,"stated Miller. "I'm just so happy to be a part of Gulfport High. Gulfport High did so much for me and to be able to comeback and give back just a little bit, that's what makes me happy."
Gulfport athletic director Bryan Caldwell won the last Admirals basketball championship when he coached Gulfport to the 2002 title and now Miller brings home the 9th title to Gulfport High School. The tradition is alive and well.