Vicksburg going to the Big House

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

[2/22/03]STARKVILLE L.J. Scott and his Vicksburg High teammates could have gone back to their hotel and celebrated or relaxed after securing a trip to the Big House with a 53-51 overtime win over Olive Branch Friday night.

But they didn’t.

Instead, they stuck around to scout Starkville, who they’ll meet in tonight’s North State championship game.

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“I’m going out here and taking notes so I can do what I can to help my team win,” said Scott, who made 1 of 2 free throws with 15.3 seconds left to give the Gators (27-7) a cushion. “We don’t want to stop here. We want to win every game.”

Conquering the Conquistadors (28-2), who had won 19 in a row, guaranteed VHS its first trip to the state tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum since 1996.

The Gators were tentative early, coach Dellie Robinson said, but they weren’t intimidated about playing Olive Branch, which hadn’t lost to a Mississippi team all season. The Conquistadors’ only loss was to Germantown, Tenn., on Nov. 30.

Both teams missed chances to win it at the free-throw line. Olive Branch was 6-of-14 from the line while VHS was 9-of-17.

Robinson said he never lost confidence in his team, though.

“After 24 years, you’ve pretty much seen everything,” Robinson said. “We didn’t play very well, but we just wanted it and found a way to win.”

Sophomore Sedrick Williams, whose 3-point shooting got the Gators going in the second half, said they won’t be intimidated by Travis Outlaw and the highly touted Yellow Jackets (26-2) either.

“To tell you the truth, I really want to play Starkville,” said Williams, who led VHS with 14 points, 11 in the second half. He hit 4 of his first 6 from long range before cooling off late and missing his last five, including one that would have won it at the end of regulation.

VHS point guard Devin Jones chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, and Scott finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Trey Lucas led Olive Branch with 16 points.

In the end, it was the defense and rebounding of Cedrick Parson, Jamaal Thomas and Scott that won it, Conquistadors coach Andrew Orr said.

“They just out-physicaled us,” he said. “We struggled on the boards. We did the best we could. Losses make champions.”

Parson had four blocks and a key putback in overtime.

Jones had an off night, Robinson said, but he still hit the biggest shot of the night for VHS. After Scott kept the Gators alive with a big rebound, Jones hit a running jumper in the lane with 14 seconds left to tie it at 49-49.

VHS trailed at the end of each quarter, but never fell behind by more than five. Williams started the third and fourth quarters with 3-pointers.

“I was feeling it,” he said.

Thomas and Parson had big dunks in the third to spark the Gators, but Scott and Roy Williams got their fourth fouls in the fourth period.

“They confused us a lot … and they were so quick,” Robinson said.

With a win tonight, The Gators will play in Jackson on on March 4 at 2:30 p.m. Should Vicksburg lose tonight, the Gators will play on Tuesday against either Moss Point, Wayne County, Hattiesburg or Biloxi at 8 p.m.

Robinson said he doesn’t care who it is.

“I’m just glad to be going back,” he said.