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Four-school tourney aims to create big, local event

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Ferriday High School’s Steve Wilson goes up for a shot against Natchez High School’s Jadarrius Williams during Friday’s game at the Miss-Lou Shootout.

VIDALIA — Local hoops lovers got an early Christmas present this weekend at Vidalia High School.

Four Miss-Lou teams came together on the court for a two-day, eight-game event that featured some highly competitive games and drew good crowds Friday and Saturday night.

“We were lucky to get to host the very first one,” Vidalia boys’ head coach Robert Sanders said. “And we’ve had a pretty good gate, better than on an ordinary night.”

Ferriday High School, Jefferson County High School and Natchez High School joined Vidalia at the event, and Natchez assistant coach David Haywood said it was a showcase of the local basketball talent.

“I think it is a good deal for Miss-Lou basketball and for the community,” Haywood said. “We’ve got some pretty good competition, and I think if we give it a couple years this will be pretty big.”

The coaches of each school plan to continue the new tradition with each school having the opportunity to host the event during the next three seasons.

The event will boost up the local basketball rivalries that have already been created between the four participating schools, Haywood said.

The former Natchez player said the games between local schools were big when he was playing as well.

“(These games) are huge when you see the guys from Ferriday, Jefferson County and Vidalia all the time,” he said. “It gives you the chance to do a little talking at the mall or Walmart, you know, ‘We beat y’all two or three times, and you only beat us once.’”

Vidalia and Natchez battled Saturday night with the Bulldogs prevailing 50-41.

For several teams, the event offered a chance at rematches of previous matchups played this season, and Natchez girls’ head coach Alphaka Moore said the tournament provided a measuring stick on each teams’ improvement.

“I think the main thing is you don’t want to make the same mistakes (that you made in the first matchup),” she said.

Vidalia girls’ head coach Fred Marsalis said the Miss-Lou Shootout was just another opportunity for local athletes to share the spotlight.

“I know a lot of these kids, and they know each other,” he said. “I think it’s a great chance to develop sportsmanship.”

The games also gave the schools a chance to stay close to home as the holiday season approaches and some teams face long layoffs.

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