Vikings balanced in playoff win over Vermillion

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; It really did not matter who the bi-district opponent was for Vidalia Friday night.

After dropping last week’s district 3-2A championship game with McCall, whoever drew the Vikings was going to have to incur Vidalia’s wrath.

That was unfortunate for Vermillion Catholic, 5-2A’s runner-up.

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The Vikings (23-6) did just about everything right in a balanced 78-58 victory over VC.

&uot;We preached all week long that we needed to execute outside and inside the paint,&uot; Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said. &uot;I felt we really did a much better job of that tonight.&uot;

The Vikings had three players reach double figures, with the same trio scoring 15 points or more.

Ajay Warner connected on two of his three 3-pointers, and game-high 21 points, in the first period as Vidalia quickly built a 9-3 lead with 5:24 to go.

The lead swelled to eight, 15-7, when Louis McNulty putback his own missed shot with 1:48 left in the opening period.

McNulty, David Wilson and Josh Bush &045; Vidalia’s inside force &045; combined for 31 total points on the night.

&uot;I’ve been trying to get that kind of production out of my posts all year long,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;Maybe finally they’re coming around at the right time.

&uot;Hopefully they’ll continue to play that way the rest of the playoffs.&uot;

The undermatched and undersized Eagles could not handle Vidalia on the glass, thus resulting in second and third offensive opportunities which the Vikings capitalized on.

Gregory Bradley, who had a team-high 18 points, tried to keep his team’s chin up with six of VC’s first 11 points.

Bradley muscled his way through traffic with 21.2 seconds to go in the first to bring the Eagles within six, 17-11.

&uot;(Vidalia) was just a little more talented and more athletic than us,&uot; VC head coach Chris Poullard said. &uot;They have a good team that can shoot or go inside. I see them going far&uot; in the playoffs.

Poullard is just two months on the job. He inherited an Eagle team last December that had yet to win a game.

VC responded with a new ringmaster, winning nine of its final 12 games to clinch a wild card for the playoffs.

&uot;I’m so proud of my kids. They hustled so much tonight and I look forward to next year,&uot; Poullard said. &uot;We’ve got the best fans around. Win, lose, whatever they support us so much.&uot;

That was evident as the visitors’ bleachers being were invaded long before the opening tip by gray and maroon colors, whose patrons stood the entire game and never let their roar up.

Perhaps using their crowd as adrenaline the Eagles hung around longer than either Sanders or the Vidalia players expected.

When Taylor Sellers dropped in a basket with 6:30 in the second VC’s deficit was just seven, 21-14, due to some very lackadaisical play from the Vikings.

However, that was as close as the Eagles got for the rest of the game.

Tony Hawkins scored seven points in a 9-3 run to increase the margin past double digits, 30-17, with 2:16 left before halftime.

A turnaround jumper from Jessie Lyles off some fancy dribbling put Vidalia up by 15, 43-28, midway through the third quarter.

&uot;Coach Sanders told us that with the way the brackets laid out, it’s actually better that we lost to McCall last week,&uot; Warner said. &uot;There are a lot of good teams in the upper part, so we’ll just let them beat up on each other and make our way through.&uot;