WC nipped by No. 1 Murrah after KOing Callaway

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2002

[12/29/01]The Vicksburg Gators got a good look at division rival Clinton Friday night in the championship game of the Northwest Rankin Tournament. But the Arrows had the better view of the first-place trophy.

Clinton’s Jerekus Singleton scored nine of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter and Patrick Veal scored four of his nine during a fourth-quarter surge that sealed the 59-44 win.

“That’s just the first round. We’ve got them two more times,” said Vicksburg coach Dellie Robinson, whose team will face the Arrows again on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22. The teams could also meet in the Division 4-5A tournament later in the season at VHS. “No doubt about it, we’ll be much better prepared for them next time. But we’ve got to go over there, and it’s always tough at Clinton.”

For a while, it looked like the Gators (15-4) might take round one in the rivalry.

VHS’ Willie Powers scored eight of his team-high 15 points in the first quarter and Clinton (14-3) hit just two of its first nine shots as the Gators took the early lead.

But the Arrows hung around and took the lead with a 6-2 spurt in the final 21/2 minutes of the half. A free throw by Ivery Dishman, his only point of the game, gave Clinton a 24-23 lead at the break and the Arrows converted a pair of breakaway dunks in the first minute of the second half to push the lead to five.

“We were behind, and it was hard for us to come back,” said Powers, who picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter and fouled out with 15 points with 4.5 seconds to play.

Clinton extended the lead to as many as seven in the third quarter, but VHS clawed and scrapped to cut the deficit to 39-37 in the final minute of the period.

Singleton kept the Arrows in front, however, by hitting a fallaway jumper from the top of the key and converting it into a three-point play, then putting a spin move on a VHS defender for another 18-footer from the same spot as time expired in the quarter.

“The difference in the ballgame was Singleton being able to spread the floor and go one-on-one, and we didn’t have an answer for him,” Robinson said.

The teams traded baskets in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter until Veal, playing with four fouls, crashed the boards to hit a pair of tough layups on putbacks.

The shots keyed an 11-5 run that pushed Clinton’s lead to double figures with about two minutes to play.

“I was just worried about going over the back,” said Veal, who also grabbed eight rebounds. “Every time I went up I had an open look, so I went for it.”

The Gators, who scored only seven points in the fourth quarter, never got the deficit back under 10 points and didn’t score in the final two minutes.

“It’s a big loss,” Powers said. “We had them, we just fell apart.”

(G) VHS 70, M-St. Joe 14

The Missy Gators ended their run in the consolation bracket of the Northwest Rankin Tournament with a strong effort against an overwhelmed Madison-St. Joe squad.

Thirteen of the 15 players who dressed out for VHS (11-9) scored, with Katina Cooper leading the way with 11 points. LaToya Trunell added 10, Kamekia Linzy had nine and Tricia Dart had eight.

Meagan Robinson had six points for Madison-St. Joe, which has only seven players on its roster. The Lady Bruins hit only two shots in the first three quarters, and VHS led 42-2 at halftime.

“They couldn’t handle our pressure, but we knocked our pressure off after the first quarter,” VHS coach Mike Coleman said. “I bet (St. Joe) didn’t take but 15 or 16 shots the whole game.”