Vidalia hits 21 free throws to down Rams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Under normal circumstances Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders would be smiling after his team took 41 shots from the free throw line.

But the 20 free throws the Vikings missed the day after Christmas had him in a mood foul enough to think he awoke Thursday morning to a lump of coal in his stocking. The Vikings delivered both defensively and offensively Friday in an 83-68 win over Bastrop but couldn’t hit consistently from the free throw line.

So after the first of the year Sanders said he’ll up the ante on team rules. Normally his rules call for anyone shooting under 50 percent in a game running suicides at practice for every miss, but he’ll raise the ante in 2004 to 75 percent.

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Or get ready to do plenty of running.

&uot;We’ll do something about that real soon,&uot; said Sanders, whose team improved to 3-1. &uot;They’ll have to pay a price for missing their free throws. It (running) seems to be a big factor in helping them concentrate more. We shoot free throws all during practice &045; beginning, middle and end. It’s a matter of concentration.&uot;

The Vikings were just as troubled in the second half (7 of 17) as in the first (14 of 24), but the second half they employed

a much better press to pull away from their two-point halftime lead over the Rams.

The press led to some easy baskets in transition, and the Vikings were able to go inside more in the halfcourt to Louis McNulty to keep the Rams from getting back in the lead. The closest the Rams got the deficit was to six on two occasions, but each time the Vikings answered with a key basket to retain momentum.

&uot;We always have a real slow third quarter,&uot; Bastrop head coach Alex Perkins said. &uot;That’s been hurting us the last couple of games. It’s like we start the game over from the first half to the second half. They’re young, and I don’t have but one guy back with a lot of playing time. It’s an experience thing right now.&uot;

Twice in the fourth quarter the Rams (5-10) cut the lead to seven only to send the Vikings back to the line. With 5:08 left Chris Wallace put in a bucket to cut the lead to 64-57, and Robert Walker went to the line right after but missed both free throws.

Tony Hawkins, the Vidalia sparkplug guard who finished with 29 points, stole a pass after Bastrop got the rebound and laid it in for a bucket for a 66-57 lead. Bastrop then got a bucket from Marcus Green with 4:40 left to cut it back to seven, but the Rams sent Ken Johnson to the line seven seconds later for two more.

This time Johnson hit both for a 68-59 lead and a spark for a 9-2 run that put the game away.

&uot;We had a lot of guys in foul trouble,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;That’s from not moving your feet and not getting in good defensive position. But that goes back to being young. The second half (Vidalia) turned it up a notch. I’m not taking anything away from Vidalia. They’ve got a good team.&uot;

But the Rams had some key turnovers in between putting the Vikings on the line, and Vidalia was able to take advantage. It began right at the start of the third quarter when the Vikings went to their 2-2-1 press and scored eight straight points after taking a 38-36 lead at halftime.

McNulty tossed in the first before Hawkins came with two more and C.J. Williams’ basket made it 46-36 less than three minutes into the second half. Bastrop scored five straight points to cut it to five, but the Vikings put together six straight of their own for a 53-41 lead.

None bigger was a 3-pointer from the corner courtesy of Ramon Harris, one of just two 3-pointers in the second half for Vidalia after it sank four in the first half.

&uot;We did the same press (as the first half), but we did it more effectively,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;We weren’t doing our assignments in the first half. That was a big thing. A lot of times it takes our press to jump-start our offense.&uot;