Vicksburg stuns NHS; Lady Bulldogs get win

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

VICKSBURG &045; All Vicksburg High basketball coach Dellie C. Robinson asks of his team this time of year is to get out of district.

Forget a season that saw the Gators go 14-16. Forget a bevy of games in which the team had huge second-half leads only to watch them dissipate.

Forget everything and get out of district.

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Behind what Robinson called the best performance of the season, the Gators walloped top-seeded Natchez 74-53 in the opening round of the Division 6-5A Tournament on Tuesday night.

&uot;Just win the first game, baby,&uot; a jubilant Robinson said. &uot;Just win that first game and we’ll worry about the rest later.&uot;

The Gators (15-16) will now play Warren Central in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Gators put Tuesday night’s game out of reach early. Four Gators scored in double figures, led by Sederick Williams’ 22 points, and Vicksburg controlled the boards against the taller Bulldogs.

&uot;They beat us before on our home floor and then beat us down there by like 20,&uot; said Vicksburg’s Brandon Harper, who scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. &uot;This game was really, really big for us. We wanted it bad.&uot;

Harper and Edwin Gaskin, who scored 13 points, led a stifling man-to-man defense. The Gators work on man defense in practice, but rarely use it, opting instead for a zone.

&uot;We realized a couple games ago that we had to switch to a man,&uot; Robinson said. &uot;I thought I saw it when we played man defense against Warren Central, and we’ve been playing it ever since.&uot;

Vicksburg held a 37-22 halftime lead behind Williams’ 12 first-half points.

The Gators extended the lead to as many as 23 in the third quarter. The cold-shooting Bulldogs connected on 17-of-53 shots for the game and never threatened after halftime.

&uot;I’m speechless,&uot; Gaskin said. &uot;It just feels great.&uot;

Vicksburg kept the lead at around 20 throughout the fourth quarter and Natchez began launching 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter.

Rodney Gray scored a team-high 18 points, the only Bulldog in double figures.

Point guard Fred Thomas poured in 11 points in the victory.

&uot;Our guys did every single thing I asked them to do,&uot; Robinson said. &uot;I told them after the game that if they just listen to the old man, everything will be all right.&uot;

NHS girls 52, Forest Hill 45

Lady Bulldogs head coach Sue Johnson could be honest after this barnburner &045; had she the chance to do it all over again, her club would have found a game somewhere prior to Tuesday’s game.

But after finally getting it together in overtime to put away the Lady Rebels, the Lady Bulldogs survived to get to the finals of the Division 6-5A tournament and clinch a spot in the Class 5A playoffs.

&uot;It was a dogfight,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;You know that question you asked me if that layoff was going to hurt us? The answer is yes. We dug deep, and I’m proud of them. The ones off the bench came through. The bench saves us tonight, and that’s what teamwork is all about.

&uot;That’s what I’m always telling them &045; the bench is just as important as the first five or even more. If they believe that, we won’t have any problem.&uot;

The Lady Rebels slowed down Natchez in the first three quarters as the Lady Bulldogs’ inside tandem of Delequa Drake and Jasmine Woods combined to score 19 points. Forest Hill kept the pace slow as the score was tied at 25 heading into the fourth quarter before both teams put up 17 to finish regulation tied at 42.

Then the Lady Bulldogs got rolling with 10 points and holding Forest Hill to just three to take the win. Wennifer Noble led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points.

&uot;They clogged us up inside,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;We tried to force it in, and we were rushing. We relaxed and played good, solid defense. Lord knows our offense most of the night hurt us. That’s why defense is so valuable. If your offense runs away and leaves, your defense will keep your stomach full, so to speak. It’ll keep you from starving to death.&uot;