Tavarri Robinson of Franklin Parish, left, and Curtis McNulty of Vidalia jump to grab the rebound in the first half of the boys basketball game Tuesday. Vidalia defeated Franklin Parish, 59-56. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)
Tavarri Robinson of Franklin Parish, left, and Curtis McNulty of Vidalia jump to grab the rebound in the first half of the boys basketball game Tuesday. Vidalia defeated Franklin Parish, 59-56. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)

Strong performance by Wilson, Thompson lead Vidalia in win

Published 12:04am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

VIDALIA — High-powered scoring from Julius Wilson and Isiah Thompson along with solid team defense lifted the Vidalia High School Vikings to a 59-56 win against Franklin Parish High School in a district match Tuesday night.

Wilson put up a game-high 26 points, followed by a strong performance of 21 points by Isiah Thompson.

Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said Wilson and Thompson’s contributions are expected consistently, and strong performances by both were needed to pull out a tough win.

“We need those two to always lead our scoring,” he said.

But an equally strong performance by J.T. Allen of Franklin Parish, who scored 20 points, seemed to be a major problem for Vidalia early in the game.

Franklin Parish got off to a 4-0 start before Thompson put up a floater through traffic for Vidalia’s first points at the 6:20 mark.

Vidalia was able to tie the score at eight with 4:50 remaining before Allen hit a corner three-pointer, followed by a Patriots steal that resulted in an Antjuan Ellis lay-up, making it 14-8.

Vidalia High School’s Isiah Thompson pushes past Franklin Parish guards Kobe Jones, left, and Tyler Bush in the first half of the boys basketball game Tuesday. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)
Vidalia High School’s Isiah Thompson pushes past Franklin Parish guards Kobe Jones, left, and Tyler Bush in the first half of the boys basketball game Tuesday. (Brittney Lohmiller \ The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia answered with seven points by Wilson before Thompson’s long three-pointer pulled the Vikings within one point, 21-20, at the end of the first quarter.

Franklin Parish came out with energy in the second quarter as it went on an early 6-1 run to regain the lead 27-21. But the Vikings seemed to kick things up a notch, and Vidalia took the lead within the last minute of the half on a Thompson-to-Deion Brown connection.

On the Patriots’ next possession, Malik Jefferson stripped the ball before passing it ahead to Wilson for a breakaway layup. The Vikings managed to score one more time in the half when they held the ball for the last shot and succeeded on a floater by Wilson, making it 32-28 at intermission.

Vidalia kept at least a four-point lead throughout the third quarter as the Vikings tried several defensive strategies to hold the Patriots at bay. Sanders said he knew his team had to put together a solid defensive performance to get a much needed district win.

“We knew they were a good rebounding team, and they had good shooter from the outside, so we had to cover their shooters,” he said. “We started off doing that, but we had to switch from a 3-2 zone to a half-court set.”

The Vikings went up by as many as 11 points before Franklin Parish stormed back within four points, 47-43, on a three-pointer by Allen with 1:20 left.

Vidalia was able to create a little distance before the fourth quarter, jumping ahead 52-44.

The fourth quarter was about solidifying the lead for Vidalia, and though the Vikings were outscored 12-7, they succeeded.

The Patriots inched within two points, 54-52, on a lay up from Ellis at the 5:45 mark. But Vidalia scored a couple of points and began to run down the clock, maintaing a 58-56 lead 1:30 remaining.

But the Patriots had other ideas, as an aggressive defense disrupted the Vikings. Vidalia matched the effort, however, and a diving Errick Genous pounced on a lose ball with 51.5 seconds remaining to give the Vikings the possession.

Sanders said Genous was one of many Vikings that played superb defense for him Tuesday.

“It was a total team effort, and Genous did a good job of guarding (Ellis),” Sanders said.

From there, the Franklin Parish’s Travion Page was forced to foul Malik Jefferson who hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game with 9.7 seconds to go.

The Patriots weren’t able to score, giving Vidalia the win. The Vikings travel to Neville High School in Monroe, La., Friday.

Franklin Parish 46, Vidalia 37

The Lady Vikings had chances to come back and upset Franklin Parish High School in the final minutes of regulation Tuesday, but they weren’t able to get over the hump in a 46-37 loss.

Fran Duson led the Lady Vikings in scoring with 15 points, and Bre’Honor Harris added eight points in the team’s come-back effort.

Vidalia stayed toe to toe with Franklin Parish in the first quarter as the two stayed tied at seven points. But the Lady Patriots gradually slipped away from Vidalia, going into halftime up 19-17 before building a 13-point lead in the third quarter, 38-25.

The Lady Vikings stormed their way back into the game in the fourth on Harris’s six points to come as close as 40-37 with 1:30 remaining in regulation.

But Franklin Parish took advantage of Vidalia’s weak ball-handling skills as they full-court pressured the ball and forced turnover after turnover to win the game.

The Lady Vikings travel to Avoyelles High School Friday.