Williams’ 20 keys Vikings over No. 1-ranked McCall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2004

VIDALIA, La. &045; It’s not the sounds of music blaring through a pair of headphones that gets C.J. Williams hyped before tip-off.

Nor is it the smell of a jersey as he slips it over his head and across his face.

Even the pregame words from Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders aren’t the impetus that Williams, a senior guard for the Vikings, waits for.

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No, when the 5-6 Williams yearns for some words of encouragement, he turns to someone who knows him better than anyone else.

&uot;Believe it or not, my mom always tells me to settle down and play my game,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s what I was doing out there tonight.&uot;

Williams certainly did, as he poured in 20 points to lead all scorers in a 69-57 District 4-2A upset of No. 2 McCall (26-3, 5-1) on Tuesday, avenging a 66-48 defeat in Tallulah on Jan. 16.

His 3-pointer with a few second remaining in the third quarter not only increased Vidalia’s lead from four to seven points, but it also swung the pendulum fully in the direction of the Vikings (11-3, 4-1).

Williams play combined with that of backup Fred Marsalis was crucial in putting Vidalia a half-game back of the Dragons since point guard Tony Hawkins was plagued by fouls and frustration throughout the contest.

&uot;(Williams) did a good job of ball handling and keep the turnovers at a minimum,&uot; Vikings head coach Robert Sanders said. &uot;Fred did a good job of spelling Tony, as well. I told my backups to expect a lot of playing time tonight and they were up to the task.&uot;

Vidalia fought back from a seven-point deficit on the strength of a 9-0 run to take a 38-36 lead after post Louis McNulty banked in two off the glass with 5:20 left in the third.

The lead flip-flopped over the ensuing minutes before Williams hit a floater and a trey with 2:12 left to give the Vikings the lead for good, 45-41.

His bomb with 2.1 seconds pushed the Vidalia lead out to seven, 50-43.

&uot;Tony wasn’t in, so I knew I had to step up and be a senior,&uot; Williams said. &uot;Coach has been telling us all year to make contributions when we need to.&uot;

McCall head coach Mitchell Riggs was none too pleased with Tuesday night’s officiating and made it known after the game.

&uot;I’m a good sport and I’ve been around a long time, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything rigged up more than that,&uot; Riggs said. &uot;(The referees) went after my No. 32 (Cody Atkins) and he had two quick fouls. They had me stand in the coaching box. I get fed up with that kind of stuff.&uot;

The Dragons were never able to close the gap in the fourth quarter, trailing by as many as 16 and as few as eight.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and McCall began to air it out from beyond the 3-point arc throughout the fourth when it appeared twos were not going to be enough.

Williams said the ability of he and his teammates to make adjustments to McCall’s 2-1-2 suffocating half-court defense from the teams’ last meeting was a big difference.

&uot;It leaves the front court open if you can pick that up, which we were able to do tonight,&uot; said Sanders of the defense that tries to trap the opponent’s guards at midcourt.

In turn, McNulty and the other Viking post Rodney Washington were able to muscle their ways up for 16 points combined in the paint. Sanders installed his patented 2-2-1 press at halftime, which proved to be effective despite Riggs’ assertion that he had his team prepared for it.

Riggs benched leading scorer Rodney Williams, who averages more than 25 points per game, for violating team rules.

&uot;When I looked at the schedule the first thing I told (the players) was, we weren’t suppose to drop a ball game to a team in this league,&uot; Riggs said. &uot;I looked around and saw everybody was down. My kids have to play through, because I’m going to continue to do what I believe in.&uot;

Patrick Cooper, who led three Dragon players in double figures with 16 points, shot lights out in the second quarter. His three triples, including one as the horn sounded, sent McCall into the locker room stoked with five-point lead, 34-29.

However, Williams and the Vikings stole the momentum just as fast at the opening of the third.