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Natchez strikes inside, outside to KO Vicksburg

[12/12/01]Vicksburg High shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half against Natchez Tuesday night.

Trouble was, the hobbled Gators managed just 16 shots against a big, athletic, well-rounded squad that has its sights set on a state championship.

The Bulldogs finished strong to win, 70-40.

“They may be slightly better than us, but they aren’t 30 points better than us,” VHS coach Dellie Robinson said.

Chris Humes scored 11 points, mostly on drives, and was the only VHS player in double figures, but all of his points came in the first half. Lemira Scott added seven for VHS (13-3), which shot 41 percent (15-of-37) for the game.

For Natchez (13-2), touted 6-foot-5 post player Vasshun Newborne scored 14 on the inside, Chris Logan hit 15 from the outside and Jekel Foster had 18 from all over on 8-of-16 shooting.

“They beat us in the paint,” Robinson said. “That was the difference. When we double-teamed them, they’d hit a 3. They’ve got the outside game to complement the inside game.”

Robinson’s team is banged up, too. Willie Powers was limited by a strained groin and Roy Williams played on a bad ankle. D’Eldrick Taylor is out of the lineup and will have arthroscopic knee surgery on Dec. 21. He isn’t expected to return until Jan. 19.

“We’re just wounded right now,” Robinson said.

Natchez started on a 12-2 run, but Williams’ nifty three-point play early in the second quarter pulled VHS within two, 15-13. But Natchez followed with a run, capped by a Logan 3 that made it a 10-point game and the Bulldogs led by double digits the rest of the way.

“We just wanted to … keep the ball moving, keep them working on defense,” Newborne said.

Foster had eight assists and six rebounds.

And if Natchez continues t play with the same intensity, Newborne said, “I think we can go all the way.”

(G) Natchez 80, VHS 65

Vicksburg High coach Mike Coleman will take 46 percent shooting from the field any night. But that wasn’t good enough against red-hot Natchez Tuesday night.

The Lady Bulldogs (13-2) shot 71 percent in the second half to pull away from the Missy Gators and win by 15.

“I thought we played pretty good,” said Coleman, whose team trailed 37-31 at the half but gave up 26 points in the fourth quarter. “We were on them; they were just shooting over us.”

Rae Evans finished with 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting for VHS (9-7). After missing her first attempt, the senior center hit nine straight before one finally rimmed out in the fourth quarter. Tricia Dart, who had 10 points, was 6-of-7 from the field. LaToya Trunell also scored 10 and Marguerite Sims had eight points, six assists and three steals.

For Natchez, Christen West had 27 points, including four 3-pointers, and Crystal Brown hit all five of her second-half shots to finish with 15 points. Chrystal Sylvester added 10 for the Lady Bulldogs, who made a blistering 17 of 24 shots in the second half and finished 52 percent (30-of-58) for the game.

“We don’t usually shoot quite that good,” Natchez coach Mary Irving said, adding that her team needed to pick up the tempo in the second half. “They were just falling for us tonight.”

VHS trailed 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, but VHS went ahead, 21-18, early in the second after Brandi Hall’s steal and dish to Dart for a layup. But Quantrita Marsaw hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Lady Bulldogs never trailed again.

They took advantage of several quick turnovers to go up by 13 in the third quarter, then pushed it to 23 midway through the fourth. The Missy Gators shaved 10 points off that in about two minutes, making it 72-59 with 1:58 left, but never got any closer.

“If we would have protected the ball better and not given up so many offensive rebounds in the first half, we might would have been up by six at the half,” Coleman said.

Irving was impressed with Evans.

“I was surprised with her moves,” she said. “She positioned herself well.”