VHS looks to move on in Biloxi

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2003

[1/31/03]Most of the Vicksburg Missy Gators will probably sleep on the long ride to the Coast Saturday morning for their second-round playoff game against Biloxi.

It’s a nap they’ll be allowed to take, unlike the one that nearly cost them in the first round against Gulfport. VHS, the two-time defending Class 5A champions, needed a last-minute goal by Brandi Head to pull that game out, but it served as a wake-up call that this try for yet another ring won’t be easy.

“Really, it was,” VHS junior Brandi Parker said when asked if the Gulfport game served as a wake-up call. “I don’t think we played as hard as we could have. We went in thinking they weren’t going to play hard.”

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That shouldn’t be a problem on Saturday. The Missy Gators (20-2-2) will take on a Biloxi team that followed up last season’s run to the second round of the playoffs where they lost 2-0 at VHS by going 11-2 this year and winning the Division 7-5A championship.

Biloxi advanced to the second round by beating Hattiesburg 2-1 on Tuesday. VHS coach Kevin Manton said he didn’t know a lot about the Lady Indians, but didn’t expect as easy a game as the Missy Gators had last year.

“It’s going to be a different story down there. It’s a different year and they’re a different team,” Manton said.

The Missy Gators are different, as well. They had to replace five starters who graduated from last year’s squad and have struggled at times despite their record.

Lately, the biggest problems have been on the offensive end. VHS has had trouble getting in position for quality shots because of poor passing.

“Anytime we possess the ball, the other team can’t do anything with it. When we connect five or six passes, it creates a hole for us. But lately we’ve been relying on one or two passes instead of four or five,” Manton said. “I think we are at our best when we’re moving the ball and making people move with us.”

Parker summed VHS’ struggles up more simply.

“We just need to spread out and pass. We’ve been passing like we’re U-10,” she said.

Manton said the team has worked out most of its kinks, however, and believes the best is yet to come for the Missy Gators.

“We’ve addressed our play and our shortcomings as of late,” Manton said. “I think they’re aware of it. We’ve talked, and hopefully it’s a sign of better things to come.”