Vikings upend Gators for title Jones’ clutch shots gives WC coach first win over VHS

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 18, 2002

Ronnie Jones of Warren Central (3) battles for a rebound with Dewayne Washington and Vicksburg’s Michael Smith, right, during the Vikings’ 66-59 win in the championship game of the Coca-Cola Classic. Above, Vicksburg players, from left, Smith, Julian Tolliver and Jamaal Thomas look dejected after the loss. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[11/17/02]For three quarters, Warren Central’s Ronnie Jones was nonexistent.

Then came the fourth.

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The standout senior scored 12 points including going 8-for-8 from the free throw line as the Vikings beat rival Vicksburg, 66-59, in the championship game of the Coca-Cola Classic on Saturday.

“I hit the shots when I needed to,” Jones said. “We needed points in the fourth quarter and I was able to come through.”

The free throws were a common theme in the game that saw the two teams combine for 70 free throws and four players fouling out.

Vicksburg’s only two returning starters from last year’s team Devin Jones and L.J. Scott were hampered with foul trouble, having to sit most of the third and fourth quarters. Scott led the Gators with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Jones was held to six points.

“When you take Devin out of our lineup, we are a completely different ballclub,” Vicksburg coach Dellie Robinson said. “I thought the officials missed a lot of calls against him, but I don’t want to complain about the officiating. I thought our guys could have played a little better.”

The win lifted the Vikings to 3-0 and gave second-year coach Preston Wilson his first win against the Gators.

“We hope we can gain some confidence from this, but this is not the one that counts,” Wilson said. “The ones that count are further down the season and we have to do a better job protecting the basketball and making our free throws.”

The Vikings made only five of their first 16 free throw attempts, but hit 17 in the second half. Still, Vicksburg held the lead for most of the game.

Dewayne Washington, who led all scorers with 24 points, completed a 3-point play two minutes into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 48. The Gators retook the lead 50-48, but WC quickly answered with a 9-1 run to take a 57-51 lead and foul out both Jones and Scott in the process.

“Our game plan was to go straight at the guys in the post and we were fortunate enough to do that,” Wilson said. “There’s a big difference keeping them on the sidelines.”

Vicksburg pulled to within 62-59 with 28 seconds left thanks to four straight Michael Smith free throws, but Ronnie Jones hit four free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.

Sedrick Williams came off the bench to score 16 points for the Gators, who will play at Hinds AHS on Monday. WC will be at Ridgeland, also on Tuesday.

“This was a great game, but this is not the game we want,” Robinson said. “We’re going to get the ones we want.”