Ferriday to host Vidalia in 4-2A; Wave plays at home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

So Vidalia and Ferriday have played four times this season. And there are two more games left to play &8212; provided a tie-breaker isn&8217;t necessary.

Yet there&8217;s no complanceny on anyone&8217;s part when the two meet up for the fifth time this season tonight at the Ferriday gym. Tonight is the first meeting that actually means something &8212; the District 4-2A opener for both teams &8212; despite playing earlier this season in the jamboree and in tournaments at Vidalia, Block and Ferriday.

If there&8217;s any growing sentiment on Ferriday&8217;s side after the four meetings &8212; all wins courtesy of the Trojans &8212; it&8217;s respect.

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&8220;Each game we&8217;ve played them, they&8217;ve improved,&8221; Ferriday head coach James Davis said. &8220;They cut the deficit tremendously. The last time we beat them was by 10 or 11 points. They&8217;ve gotten better each game we&8217;ve played.

&8220;You play a team so many times, they pick up on your tendencies. We expect it to be a good, hard-fought ball game.&8221;

You can point to that last meeting for a measuring stick on the Vikings&8217; behalf. The Trojans came away 43-34 winners in the finals of the FHS tournament back on Dec. 17, but the Vikings had 31-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter afte the game was tied at 23 at halftime.

A far cry from the earlier meetings &8212; a 48-31 Ferriday win Dec. 9 at Block, a 61-47 Ferriday win Dec. 3 in the finals of the Vidalia tournament and a 30-7 FHS win in two quarters in the jamboree Nov. 12.

&8220;The second game was not as close as the first, but the last time was a little closer,&8221; VHS head coach Robert Sanders said. &8220;The first couple of times they played more man (defense). The last time they played zone. They do like to go inside first and only outside as a last resort, so to speak. It&8217;s my philosophy, but we aren&8217;t as patient as they are.&8221;

Those two similar styles should come into play again tonight with neither team possessing that solid outside shooter. Instead, the offense will be centered around penetrating through the defense and getting a high-percentage shot.

Vidalia will likely play a zone defense against the Trojans, Davis predicted. And who wouldn&8217;t?

&8220;All the games we&8217;ve played, they&8217;ve played zone until they had to come out of it,&8221; Davis said. &8220;Hopefully we can play well early and make them play a little more man against us. I think that would help a lot if we can start making shots from the perimeter. We&8217;ve got a couple of guys who can step out there and knock it down, but if they&8217;re in a zone, we&8217;ve got to be patient and move the ball better than what we&8217;re doing.&8221;

It&8217;s items like those that would make Sanders breathe a little easier. In what&8217;s been an up-and-down season so far, the Vikings have showed the capability on offense but tend to have lapses on defense.

Or it&8217;s the other way around. But the offense will rely heavily on guard Jarvis Whitley, who is tall enough to present matchup problems up top.

The Vikings lost Friday at Class B Epps.

&8220;We need to learn to play on the road better,&8221; Sanders said. &8220;We didn&8217;t defend the perimeter too well, especially in the fourth quarter (Friday). (Ferriday) tries to force you into a lot of turnovers, but we&8217;ve got to cut down on the unforced turnovers and be more patient on offense as well as more disciplined on defense. We tend to wander out of our defensive assignments.&8221;

With the Trojans, it&8217;s been more ups than downs this season &8212; up until last week. They lost at home to Natchez High in a tight ball game and went to Northwest and lost another tight one, that one in overtime.

And make what you want out of the scoring breakdown against Northwest &8212; leading scorer Eric Crump had an off night and scored just three points, and the Trojans still had a chance to win.

&8220;The thing that&8217;s getting us &8212; to be honest &8212; is the third quarter,&8221; Davis said. &8220;We&8217;re coming out of the halftime break and can&8217;t seem to get in a rhythm. All the games we&8217;ve played lately, the third quarter has been our downfall.

&8220;That (defensive intensity) is another problem, too. Lately we&8217;ve been playing a lot of zone. We&8217;re not getting a lot of pressure on the ball. That&8217;s our strong point &8212; playing good defense.&8221;

Salem at Cathedral

Welcome to the full-court version of Cathedral basketball, a direct result of the season-ending injury to post player Matthew Hall.

Head coach Peter Arnold gave his players the memo shortly Hall&8217;s injury and ordered everyone to work on their conditioning. It helped Friday in an 84-60 win over Enterprise, and the Wave will do it again tonight against Salem.

&8220;We&8217;ve been staying up-tempo, pushing the ball up the floor,&8221; Arnold said. &8220;We really don&8217;t have a great inside presence where we want to slow down and play half-court basketball. We want to play an 84-foot ball game and stretch it out. I really feel that was a big part of the game. (Enterprise) got tired.&8221;

It&8217;s taken time to recover from the loss of Hall, and Friday&8217;s win over the Yellow Jackets was Cathedral&8217;s first Region 7-1A win in five games. Others have stepped up &8212; Alex Middleton scoring and Matt Goss and Andy Lucas inside &8212; to fill in the void.

&8220;The first two games we really struggled finding our identity, but now we&8217;ve come together and started playing as a team,&8221; Middleton said. &8220;I feel confident we&8217;ll have more wins in district for the rest of the year. We played four close games and came up short. We&8217;ve just got to get over the hump.&8221;

And playing at home will surely help. The Wave&8217;s game at home Friday was the first since losing at home Dec. 16 to West Lincoln, half of the six region games remaining will be at home before the 7-1A tournament at Enterprise next month.

&8220;There&8217;s nothing like playing at home,&8221; Arnold said. &8220;We&8217;ve played 11 of our last 13 on the road. We had lost three in a row and played really good games but just didn&8217;t finish them at the end. Even though we&8217;re 1-4, we feel like we can beat anybody.

&8220;I really feel like we&8217;ve got a shot at winning it. It might sound funny when you&8217;re 1-4, but I really believe we&8217;ve got the talent and desire.&8221;