ADMIRALS EMBRACE LATEST CHALLENGE
Gulfport High School girls basketball coach Donny Fuller says the best way to improve is to play the best competition.
That is why his Admirals will compete for the first time in the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic.
Fuller, in his 5th season, has watched his team improve every season. Gulfport has gone from seven wins to 19, 21, and last season to 22 victories. However, Fullerr says those victories only mean something if the competition is tough.
"I would rather have 10 losses and be in the state tournament, than have two losses and be home," said Fuller.
Last season, the Admirals won their division championship, a group that includes Harrison Central, Hattiesburg, and Hancock.
Fuller is in his 33rd year of coaching, all in the state of Mississippi. That includes five years as an assistant at Ole Miss for legendary coach Van Chancellor.
What did he learn from Chancellor?
"The ability to deal with players," said Fuller. "He (Chancellor) also preached flexibility. We put in some offense the day of the game in a gym parking lot."
Fuller hails from Vicksburg. He coached 18 seasons at his alma mater, Warren Central High School. Then he said five years ago, Gulfport made him an offer he could not refuse.
"I needed a new challenge," said Fuller.
Two staples of Fuller's programs are balanced scoring and man-to-man defense.
Among his best players are center Erica Newsome, who played in the Mississippi North/South Junior All-Star game, and guard Bentasia Thomas, who averages about 12 points a game.
Fuller said the more scoring options his team has the better.
"Teams can key on just one player," said Fuller.
The Class 6A Admirals entered the season with much ambition. That includes an outstanding showing at the 4th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic.