Vidalia defeats Patterson, will play for title Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 12, 2009

LAFAYETTE, La. — After eight minutes of play in the Class 3A state semifinal game against Patterson, the Vidalia Vikings found themselves in a very unfamiliar position — they were losing.

However, some tough defense and a big shooting night from Quartrell Thomas was all the Vikings needed to overcome the three-point deficit and pull away for a 66-55 win.

“Defense was the key,” Vidalia coach Robert Sanders said. “Our defense generates offense for us. We saw that they were not very fast and we were able to step in their passing lanes and create steals.”

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Vidalia (32-1) didn’t do much of that in the first quarter, as the Lumberjacks (25-5) used some hot shooting and a rebound advantage to take a 16-13 lead after eight minutes.

The Vikings trailed 19-15 with six minutes remaining in the second quarter when they found their groove. Vidalia went on a 14-0 run to take a 29-19 lead and were never seriously threatened after that.

“The first quarter we were a little bit nervous,” Sanders said. “Once we settled down, we played our style of basketball and stayed ahead.”

A key to Vidalia’s ability to stay ahead in the final three quarters was Thomas. The junior guard scored 22 points, including six 3-pointers.

“I just felt like I was in a zone tonight,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to come through for the team.”

Two of Thomas’ 3-pointers were especially big. One of them came in the final seconds of the second quarter and another came in the final seconds of the third. Each of them pushed Vidalia’s lead back out to double digits after Patterson had tried to close the gap.

“They were very big (shots),” Thomas said. “Those shots gave us the momentum back and pushed the lead back out.”

Thomas’ 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave the Vikings a 49-35 lead and Patterson never  got any closer than nine points in the fourth quarter.

In addition to Thomas’ 22 points, Vidalia was led by Gary Stewart with 16. Torrey Dixon and Rolandin Webster each tallied 11 points.

Landon Lightfoot led Patterson with 13 points while Troy Watson scored 12 and Kenny Hilliard chipped in with 11.

With the win, Vidalia advances to the Class 3A State Championship game against  No. 4 seed Richwood, which defeated top-seeded Plaquemine in the other semifinal game. The game will begin at 6:45 p.m. Saturday at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La.

Thomas said that while Vidalia’s semifinal victory was sweet, they still have some unfinished business to take care of Saturday night.

“We don’t want to travel so far down here just to lose in the championship game,” Thomas said. “We want to bring (a championship) home for the community since they gave us so much support this season.”