Top 28 berth on line as Vidalia hosts PBHS

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Vidalia big man David Wilson has one thing on his mind right now, and it’s not exactly today’s Class 2A quarterfinal matchup with Port Barre at 7 p.m. at the Vikings’ gym.

The vision the left side of Wilson’s brain is concocting currently is slipping a state championship ring on his large fingers. Most might say in coachspeak that Wilson’s picture is troubling.

He should not look ahead two games, and his thoughts should strictly center on getting past the Red Devils (18-12) tonight. But Wilson just cannot help himself.

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&uot;I can picture it real good. If we go out and play with the same intensity, we’ll be able to sew it up and all get to see that ring,&uot; said the 6-foot-4 1/2 Wilson, who scored 19 points in a regional playoff win, 67-36, at Springfield Tuesday.

A win tonight ensures the Vikings (25-6) a spot in next week’s Top 28 championships in Lafayette at the Cajundome.

With six seniors on this squad, Vidalia has a chance to get out of the quarterfinals, a spot it has not been in since a 1983 loss to Zwolle.

For most of the Vikings and even the veterans, there is a daily reminder that a loss and the season is over, head coach Robert Sanders said. For senior leaders like Wilson and Ajay Warner, they are ready for the challenge to lift their teammates

&uot;Every game we (the seniors) try to tell everybody that this could be our last game,&uot; said Warner, who scored 29 points in a bi-district win last Friday against Vermillion Catholic. &uot;With a lot of us leaving, the team might not be as good next year as the one we have here now.

&uot;They talk about wanting to win it all this year, and if the opportunity is there like it is for us right now, who wouldn’t want to keep on winning?&uot;

The Vikings face a Port Barre team that pulled away from Christian Life Tuesday in Baton Rouge with the help of some timely 3-pointers. But the Red Devils’ bread-and-butter is unquestionably with their post men, Chris Keys and Marvin White, who each scored 18 points in the 64-50 victory.

Sanders believes even with Keys and White, Vidalia has an advantage with its big bodies down low in Wilson, 6-4 Louis McNulty and 6-5 reserve Josh Bush and will, as the season has demonstrated, punch the ball in low before it shoots from the outside.

&uot;A lot of teams talk about how tall we are, but we have to go out and prove that it’s an advantage for us,&uot; Wilson said. &uot;We don’t care about our height, as long as we look at every game as our last and play hard we’ll be fine on our own.&uot;

Sanders said a lot of factors go into Vidalia’s successful postseason so far, but credits the luck of how the brackets laid out.

Through two games, the Vikings have played teams severely undersized and while Port Barre will be the second district champion &045; 6-2A &045; Vidalia has faced, it again expects to win.

&uot;We’ve had as much talent in the past as we do this season, but things haven’t been as laid out as nicely for us as this year,&uot; said Sanders, in his 12th year with the Vikings. &uot;Those teams that lost early in the playoffs lost to teams that eventually made deep in the playoffs.&uot;

Unlike his teammate Wilson, Warner is not looking ahead to a possible state crown. In his first three seasons as Vidalia made the playoffs, Warner looked at the large picture rather than kept things simple and the Vikings lost.

This time around he is following the old one-game-at-a-time adage and hopes that will carry them to the perfect send-off prize.

&uot;If it’s not in their hearts it’s not going to happen. I can’t play the game for them,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;We’ve got the most balanced team since I’ve been here. It’s among the best.&uot;