McNulty holds Gomez as VHS lands upset win

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 1, 2004

BATON ROUGE &045; Louis McNulty collected pats on the back and handshakes from well-wishers like he was pressing Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards for the Democratic party nomination on Super Tuesday.

Whether public office is in the 6-5 senior’s future remains to be seen. However, Vidalia fans would be happy to vote him in as mayor after his performance in the Class 2A regional round victory over Episcopal.

A virtual non-factor in the Vikings’ opening round win against Springhill last Friday, McNulty made up for it, outplaying Tulane University signee David Gomez on both ends of the floor.

Email newsletter signup

McNulty led all scorers with 18 points and pulled down five rebounds, as Vidalia advanced into the third round with a 41-35 win. The Vikes play the winner of Tuesday’s Lakeview-Homer contest.

&uot;I had to redeem myself for last game. I didn’t play very aggressive against (Springhill’s Mike White),&uot; McNulty said. &uot;I just played my game. I’ve seen (Gomez) play before. He was a big threat, but we were able to contain him in the zone.&uot;

Gomez, who came in averaging nearly 25 points per game, finished with a modest 13 to lead the Knights (32-6).

Perhaps McNulty’s only mishap of the night was a wardrobe malfunction before the tip that forced him back to the locker room to replace the white undershirt.

Otherwise, he was magnificent.

&uot;On the four films we saw, that’s the best (McNulty’s) played,&uot; Episcopal head coach Chris Beckman said. &uot;He was definitely more physical and played stronger. He just wanted it more, especially early in the game.&uot;

For all his efforts, McNulty was scoreless in the fourth quarter, meaning Vidalia (19-2) turned to its other seniors to escape Baton Rouge.

Back-to-back layups from Tony Hawkins and Rodney Washington put the Vikings up 35-29 with 5:01 remaining.

After Garrett Staudermann, who finished with 11 for the Knights, made a pair of free throws, Gomez showed off one of his patented spin moves to bring Episcopal within a bucket, 35-33,with 4:02 left.

&uot;Every time (Gomez) put the ball on the floor, we wanted to make him pick it up,&uot; Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said. &uot;That was the idea every time he got the ball. We had our guards help out.&uot;

Gomez came right back down the court and tied it up a possession later when Robert Drumm stole a Hawkins pass and lobbed it ahead to the 6-7 post.

Just when Episcopal had seemingly circled the wagons, the Vikings stole the momentum right back when C.J. Williams drove around Gomez for a nifty deuce, making it 37-35 Vidalia with 2:21 left.

The Knights, which had maneuvered through Vidalia’s press without many problems for most of the night, finally got rattled. After Williams’ bucket, an errant pass gave the ball back to the Vikings, who made Episcopal pay by pushing the lead to four.

&uot;I thought we did a good job against the press for most of the game until the end. That’s where we went brain dead,&uot; Beckman said. &uot;I think Vidalia played very well, to be honest with you. We just got outplayed. It’s not like the NBA where it’s the best three out of five, or four out of seven. You’ve got one game.&uot;

McNulty outplayed Gomez in the second, dropping in silky smooth jumpers, tipping in trash buckets around the glass and going the extra mile on defense.

Similar to how the first ended, the teams jabbed at each other with treys to begin the second. MuNulty’s turnaround jumper over Gomez put Vidalia up, 14-12, with 6:29 left before the break.

After Episcopal pulled ahead for its one and only lead from the second period on, McNulty tied the game at 19s off a tip-in with 3:03 left, after Vidalia baited Gomez in coming out to defend Hawkins, who was charging down the lane.

&uot;We knew (McNulty) had it in him. It came out at the right time,&uot; Sanders said. &uot;I think he took it personally. He put our team on his shoulders. I think he did take it as an insult that his name wasn’t being mentioned.&uot;

On the ensuing possession the 6-5 senior stepped in front of an entry pass intended for Gomez and started the break.

Hawkins led the Vikings, who had numbers, before dumping it low to McNulty who finished to put his mates back on top 21-19 with 2:35 showing.

McNulty put Vidalia up 23-21 when he canned a free-throw line jumper with less than a minute left.

&uot;We were supposed to come down here and lose tonight,&uot; McNulty said. &uot;The odds were against us. This shows we’re not scared of any challengers.&uot;