Vidalia defense leads to win

Published 12:04 am Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vidalia High School boys Martel Wiley takes a 3 point shot during the first quarter of Friday’s game against Buckeye. (Rod Guajardo \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — The Vidalia High School basketball team led by just one point heading into the fourth quarter of its home game Friday night against Buckeye High School, but the Vikings defense stepped up in the final period to allow them to stretch the lead and eventually hold on to win the game 49-44.

Vidalia allowed just three free throws to Buckeye in the fourth quarter while the Vikings stretched out their lead, and the Vikings only gave up five points in the period. Buckeye finally made a field goal in the waning seconds when Landon Norris knocked down a two-point jumper to make the final differential five points.

But Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders said the lack of points for Buckeye in the fourth quarter was not as much of a credit to his team’s defensive play as he would have liked.

Vidalia High School boys Zalen Parker drives to the basket during the second quarter of Friday’s game against Buckeye. (Rod Guajardo \ The Natchez Democrat)

“Well I guess we just got a few breaks,” Sanders said. “It definitely wasn’t due to improved defense. I guess it was just our fortune. We just got lucky to win this one.”

Vidalia forced 13 Buckeye turnovers in the first half to pull out to a 30-22 lead at halftime, but Sanders said his team’s defense in the third quarter allowed Buckeye to get back in the game.

“We left too many people open,” Sanders said. “Especially guys that we were focused on stopping.”

Buckeye scored 17 points in the third quarter, including three made three-pointers.

Sanders said he was pleased with the way his team forced turnovers in the first half, but he was not sure why those turnovers stopped coming in the third quarter.

“We just played a little better defense early and got away from it in the second half,” he said. “We even talked about it at halftime.”

The play turned sloppy in the fourth quarter, and Vidalia was able to come up with eight Buckeye turnovers in the final period to help secure the win.

Buckeye’s Austin Edwards led all scorers with 18 points.

Vidalia had just one double-digit scorer in Zalen Parker, who netted 10 points. Isiah Thompson and Ivan Turner both added nine points each for the Vikings, and Trey Virgis scored six of his own.

The win put Vidalia at 3-5 in LHSAA District 3-3A and 10-17 overall.

The Vikings will host Marksville Tuesday.

Buckeye girls 53, Vidalia 26

The Buckeye High School girls’ basketball team had 10 different players score points against Vidalia Friday night in the Lady Panthers’ 53-26 win.

Buckeye led 26-7 after the first half of play and cruised to a win in the second half.

Fran Duson led Vidalia with seven points in the game. Shermel Bell and Kisha Swanson both finished their nights with six points each for the Lady Vikings.

Buckeye’s Tayler Brown led all scorers with 10 points.

The loss dropped the Lady Vikings to 0-8 in district play.