Vidalia Vikings squeak out victory over Sicily Island in final seconds, 53-51

Published 11:34 pm Saturday, December 30, 2017

Vidalia High School’s Brandon Vantree scored just two points Saturday, but it happened to be the most important basket all night.

With three seconds remaining, Vantree secured his team’s 53-51 victory over Sicily Island when he rebounded a missed Vidalia free throw, immediately pulling back up to sink a mid-range jump shot on the last day of the Tigers’ home tournament.

“My mind went blank,” Vantree said. “I just tried to make it in the basket. I feel ecstatic.”

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The game was tied three times within the final two minutes of the game, before Vidalia’s Ray J. Ransom was fouled driving to the basket.

Ransom missed his first free throw, but Vantree said he had confidence his teammate would be able to win the game on the second shot.

“I knew my teammate had it, but I was a little nervous when I saw it didn’t go in,” he said. “It was a heart-pumping experience.”

Sicily Island led at the end of the first three quarters, maintaining control over the Vikings by as many as nine points during the game.

The Tigers (8-7) began the night missing a handful of their traditional long shots, but picked up the pace in the second quarter by making three 3-pointers.

Sicily Island changed direction to begin the second half, finding its way directly to the basket with the help of Tyreke Tolliver’s firm drive.

Tolliver scored a game-high 27 points on the night, including 11 in the third period.

Vidalia (6-6) stayed on the toes of Sicily Island, also making its way to the paint despite slightly rushing shots in the second half.

Vidalia coach Robert Sanders said down the stretch, he wanted his team to stay calm. After splitting its two games with the Tigers already this season, he said he expected a close game.

“I told them to just slow it down and try to get a steal if we could,” Sanders said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the free throw, but fortunately we did get the shot back.”

Though he said he trusted Vantree with the ball, Sanders hopes to clean up some of the sloppy ball handling before Vidalia begins district play Tuesday at home against Rayville.

“I knew he was capable of making it, but I was unsure,” he said. “We have to work on the little things coming up because we are starting with the toughest team.”

Jaquan Wilson and DeMikal McCoy both ended with 16 points to lead the Vikings, while Ransom added another 12.

Though the Tigers fell short, Sicily Island coach Damon Price said he thinks his team will settle down. Landrell James scored an additional 11 points in the loss.

“We lost track of what had us in the lead,” he said. “We played well, but we can play better.”