Vikings raid Panthers

Published 9:25 am Saturday, January 13, 2007

After trailing by three at the half, Vidalia outscored Epps 23-8 in the third quarter and eventually cruised to a 73-65 victory over the Panthers.

Brandon Hawkins led the Vikings during their third quarter rout by scoring ten points in the third quarter alone, including two three-pointers to start the second half. The Vikings regained the lead quickly, and built an early second half lead by going on a 10-2 scoring run in the first three minutes of play. Vidalia turned to full court pressure on defense to keep the Panthers out of double digits in the scoring column for the quarter.

The Vikings would lead by as much as 15 before closing out the quarter with a 53-41 lead.

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“The third quarter was wonderful. We were able to pull away after being down by three at halftime,” Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said.

Epps head coach Jimmy Nail said the big point swing in the third quarter was the difference maker in the game.

“We lost it in the third quarter because we did not match their intensity, but we did make a run at them in the fourth quarter,” he said.

Nail added that having a short bench with two players out with the flu did not make things any easier for his team.

The Panthers did not go down without a fight. Epps stepped up their full court defense in the fourth quarter, which caused several Viking turnovers and led to several transition buckets for the Panthers.

“We relaxed in the fourth quarter, and missed some easy lay-ups and turned the ball over,” Sanders said.

The Panthers got to within four points of the lead with 1:51 to play in the game, but the Vikings were able to hit several free throws down the final stretch to build their lead back to eight and win by the final score of 73-65.

Things stayed close in the first half as both teams were neck and neck all the way up to the half time buzzer. Epps led Vidalia 17-16 after the first quarter, and extended their advantage to three at half time by outscoring the Vikings 16-14 in the second quarter. Jonathan Herrington and Perry Bell each scored 10 points in the first half for the Panthers.

“We did a poor job of blocking out on the boards,” Sanders said. “We played poor defense and let people drive down the lane at will.”

With the win, the Vikings improve their overall record to 11-7 as they begin their district schedule on Tuesday against Ferriday, who has beaten the Vikings twice this season in tournament play.