Sanders, Harrison Central lose in overtime, 75-63

Future Heel Byron Sanders has 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Jackson, MS - Harrison Central (MS) and UNC recruit, Byron Sanders, lost in overtime tonight in the Mississippi 5A title game to defending state champion, Gulfport (MS), by the score of 75 - 63.

Byron Sanders connects on a free throw attempt / Photo courtesy of
The win closes out the high school career of future Tar Heel, Byron Sanders of Harrison Central, who recorded a double-double. For the game, the 6-9, 215-pound Sanders had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. Gulfport ended the season with a 38-1 record, with the lone loss to Harrison Central, while Harrison Central ended the season 19-10.

Harrison Central had taken the lead during the third period, stretching it to seven points at 56 - 49 with less than three minutes left in the game. They unraveled for the rest of the game, with Gulfport hitting a three pointer and a floater in the lane.

Sanders' foul on Gulfport's Holmes led to two free throws by Gulfport which evened the score 59 - 59 at the 10 second mark in the final period. Gulfport's Holmes then proceeded to foul Harrison Central's Beard, who missed two free throws that could have won the game.

It was all Gulfport in overtime as they drew first blood to lead 61 - 59. Harrison Central's guards, a position where the team has struggled some this year, had trouble protecting the ball.

A layup by Gulfport extended the lead to four points. Harrison Central committed an intentional foul, leading to a 6-0 OT run and a 65 - 59 point lead for their opponents. Gulfport ended the game on a 16-4 tear to ice the win and the title.

Byron Sanders accepts his All-State trophy / Photo courtesy of
Harrison Central's Athletic Director, Lonnie Tillman, had this to say about his athletic front court player, "Byron is one of the best student-athletes in this state. He's a great kid - if we had five of him, we'd have won this title."

Observers at the game commented on Sanders' excellent footwork and foot speed.

  • In a special contribution to Inside Carolina, Debbie Thornton ( provided stats and interviewed Sanders after the game:

    Inside Carolina: How do you feel you played tonight?
    Byron Sanders: "I didn't play my best....I didn't step up for my teammates when they needed it."

    IC: What was Harrison Central's game plan since Gulfport knew you so well and you knew them so well?
    Sanders: "We just wanted to move the ball around. We wanted to hit the upper man rushing."

    IC: Are you excited about being a Tar Heel?
    Sanders: [smiling excitedly] "Yes, m'am. Very, very very excited and you need to put those exclamations points behind that!"

    IC: Are you coming up for summer school?
    Sanders: "Yes, May 21st."

    IC: You said you were going to bulk up. Have you been able to?
    Sanders: "I have gained 5 pounds. It has been real hard."

    IC: All the recruits coming in are really confident. Has your confidence grown throughout the year?
    Sanders: "Yeah, it has been stepping up everyday."

    IC: What was it like to play your last high school game of your life?
    Sanders: "Fun, it was very FUN."

    Sanders will arrive in North Carolina as part of North Carolina's super six-man recruiting class of May, Felton, McCants, Sanders, Grant and Noel. He will wear the number "41" jersey.

    Bryon Sanders stats (championship game, Mississippi 5A)

    Points 15
    Field Goals 6-17
    Free throws 3-6
    Rebounds 12
    Blocks 5
    Steals 1

    Debbie Thorton contributed to this report

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