No. 14 Mississippi Gulf Coast's three finalists won MACJC/Region 23 championships Saturday, and the Lady Bulldogs nearly pulled off a huge comeback in Meridian trying to defend their state title.
Bianca Buie (So, Baia Mare, Romania/Gheorghe Sincai National High School), Margarita Lopareva (Fr, Moscow, Russia/School No. 1101) and Megan Bankston (Fr, Gulfport/Gulfport) won singles championships.
"Those three girls played lights out," Gulf Coast coach Gary Bourgeois said. "You could see the difference in really wanting to win and trying to put us in a position to win the championship. They gave it their all."
The Lady Bulldogs finished tied for second in the standings with 13 points, one behind Jones County. They won the MACJC runner-up trophy by virtue of their three champions to edge Meridian's two.
"We had some great matches today," Bourgeois said. "We finally won some three-set matches. Bianca came back and won, and Megan Bankston came back to win."
Second-seeded Bianca, who continues to serve underhand because of a shoulder injury, defeated Copiah-Lincoln's Gyselle Daza, the top seed, 7-6 (3) 6-7 (6), 6-3 to win the No. 1 singles championship.
Lopareva, who was the No. 1 seed, won the No. 2 singles title by beating No. 2-seed Arianda Jordan of Jones County 7-5, 6-0. She didn't drop a set in three matches in Meridian.
Bankston, who was unseeded, defeated top-seed Madison Curtis of Hinds 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. It was her second three-set victory of the tourney.
Gulf Coast heads to Waco, Texas, on May 6-10 for the NJCAA Championship.
"Now we get ready to go to Waco and Plano and try to come back as the top-ranked team in the state at the NJCAA Tournament," Bourgeois said. "I think we are the best team in the men's and women's. We didn't play well yesterday for the women, and the men didn't play well today."
MACJC/Region 23 Tournament Finals
No. 1: (2) Bianca Buie (GC) def. Gyselle Daza (CL) 7-6 (3) 6-7 (6), 6-3
No. 2: (1) Margarita Lopareva (GC) def. Arianda Jordan (JC) 7-5, 6-0
No. 4: Megan Bankston (GC) def. (1) Madison Curtis (HIN) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Unofficial team standings
|1. Jones County||14|
|T2. Gulf Coast||13|
|5. East Central||6|
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