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Wrongway slam sparks VHS to final vs. Arrows

[12/28/01] L.J. Scott’s mental lapse in the fourth quarter Thursday night actually propelled the Vicksburg Gators to the Northwest Rankin Tournament title game.

With the Gators (15-3) leading 41-35 with 1:27 left in the game, Scott took the inbounds pass, dribbled downcourt all alone and completed a powerful two-handed slam dunk in the wrong basket.

The dunk pulled the Cougars (9-11) within four points, but Vicksburg answered with a 10-3 run to end the game and carry a 51-40 win into tonight’s title game against Clinton. Tipoff at Northwest Rankin is set for 7:15.

“We certainly don’t want that to happen, but after it did, the kids kept their composure,” said Vicksburg coach Dellie Robinson, who said after the game that was not the first time such a thing has happened to him while he’s been coaching.

The biggest swing in the game was not Scott’s mental lapse, but the Gators’ concentration from the free-throw line.

The Gators sank 11 of 16 free throws, including 4 of 4 in the final minute. In contrast, Northwest Rankin made only 5 of 20 from the stripe.

“Five of 20, that’s not good,” said Cougars’ coach Gary Post, whose team was led by Justin Mizner’s 10 points.

The Gators got a game-high 15 from Chris Humes and 14 from Devin Jones. Roy Williams came off the bench to score 11 seven in the fourth quarter.

“We really wanted to penetrate their zone,” Williams said. “They were doing a good job trapping the point guard.”

Vicksburg’s big men Patrick Igbokwe and Dewayne Jackson combined for only seven points against a tough Cougars’ zone.

Despite that, Vicksburg held a 24-22 lead at the half. Northwest answered at the start of the third with an 8-2 run for a 30-26 lead and held it until Humes’ reverse layup late in the third gave VHS a 34-33 advantage.

Humes, who missed eight of his first nine shots, scored 10 in the second half. He nailed all three field-goal attempts and all four free throws.

“Chris Humes and Roy Williams played really well down the stretch,” Robinson said. “Roy Williams has played well all year long and is stepping it up.”

A Jackson shot gave the Gators a 41-35 lead with 2:16 left, but Northwest got only a Mizner 3-pointer and Scott’s dunk the rest of the way.

“We tried to stop their inside game and I thought our guys did a great job,” Post said. “We had a chance to win it.”

Vicksburg and Clinton, division rivals this year, have yet to play each other this season. The Arrows beat Terry in the semifinals.

“We can’t stop (Jerekus) Singleton, we’re going to try to control him,” Robinson said of Clinton’s standout senior. “If we can get the ball down inside, I think we’ll be all right.”