Vicksburg opens season with stunner

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 30, 2000

Vicksburg’s Willie Powers (14) drives to the basket past Canton’s Rodrick Smith during the third quarter of the Gators’ 55-46 win. (The Vicksburg Post/MARK THORNTON)

JACKSON Miguel Henyard looked to be in midseason form in Vicksburg High’s season-opener. The senior guard scored 21 points to lead the Gators to a 55-46 win over Canton Saturday.

“If I was giving out a game ball, I’d have to give it to Miguel,” said VHS coach Dellie Robinson, who notched his first win over the school he coached from 1981 to 1991. “When he gets hot, he can hit three or four in a row.”

Point guard Jason Walker scored seven points, all in the fourth quarter, and Patrick Igbokwe scored seven in the first half.

“It was all right for the first game, but we can play better than that,” said Henyard, who also had four assists and three steals.

Robinson agreed, but was encouraged that his team was able to beat a team like Canton, ranked No. 8 in The Clarion-Ledger’s preseason poll, without playing its best.

“I’ve said all along that if we play up to our potential, we can be a good team,” Robinson said.

“I don’t think we played that well, to tell you the truth.”

Robinson was pleased with post players Igbokwe and Dewayne Jackson, who, at 6-foot-4 and 6-5, respectively, kept Canton’s big men, Rodrick Smith (6-8) and Hilton Tompkins (6-7), in check. Smith scored eight and Tompkins had seven. Janana Lewis and Tim Green were the only Tigers in double figures, with 12 and 10, respectively.

Demetrick Allen led the Gators with seven rebounds and three blocks and Igbokwe pulled down six rebounds.

Trailing by four midway through the second quarter, Henyard hit back-to-back baskets to tie it at 19-19. Igbokwe’s putback just before the buzzer gave the Gators a 25-21 lead at the half.

The Tigers tied it early in the third after three straight VHS turnovers, then went up when Tompkins went coast-to-coast for a rim-rattling dunk. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Henyard and Devin Jones gave VHS a five-point advantage with 2:45 left in the third.

Canton never got closer that three after that.

Robinson was coaching against some of the sons of players who won the Capital Classic tournament in 1983, many of whom exchanged hugs and handshakes before and after the game.

“It’s always good to beat your old school,” said Robinson, who lost to the Tigers in 1996, the only other time he’s faced them.

Canton, which returns three players from last season’s 25-7 team, was 10-of-28 from the free-throw line. VHS was 16-of-27, including two by Henyard and four by Walker in the last 38 seconds to seal it.

Canton coach Lewis Love said he was “real upset” at his team’s free-throw shooting, adding, “They will definitely be shooting a lot on Monday.”