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Madison Central sinks Gators with late trey

[12/30/03]BRANDON Jason Craighead swished a 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining to lead Madison Central past Vicksburg 50-47 in the Northwest Rankin Holiday Classic on Monday.

C.J. Jeffrey led the Jaguars with 17 points and nine rebounds. Chad Akins chipped in 13.

Vicksburg outshot Madison Central 41 percent to 35 percent and grabbed more rebounds (26-21), but the free throw line made the difference. The Jaguars were 14-of-21 from the charity stripe, while the Gators were only 2-of-5.

VHS coach Dellie Robinson questioned some of the referees’ calls, but ultimately gave Madison Central credit.

“They’ve got an excellent ballclub, I won’t take anything away from them,” he said. “I knew they were going to be a little bit down coming in after the Clinton loss. We were hoping to come in and slow it down a little bit and steal this game from them.

“We almost did.”

The Gators (6-10) got the look they wanted for the tying shot, but it didn’t fall.

Robinson called a timeout with 14 seconds remaining after a failed offensive set nearly turned over the ball. He set up his hottest hand, Sedrick Williams, for the game-tying 3-pointer off a screen.

Williams took the open shot but it missed. Johnny Markham secured the rebound, pulled it out behind the arc and missed as well.

“I was looking for it,” said Williams, who finished with a game-high 19 points with 3-of-6 shooting from downtown. “It just didn’t fall.”

The loss continues Vicksburg’s downward spiral.

The defending Class 5A state champions have lost seven of their last eight games, with the lone victory coming Friday against Brandon.

The Gators played the Jaguars much closer than in their Dec. 18 contest at Madison a 60-38 Vicksburg loss. On Monday, Vicksburg led 28-19 at halftime, thanks to a strong first-half performance on defense.

Down 13-11 early in the second quarter, the Gators went on an 8-0 run, followed soon after by a 9-3 run.

“We changed defense to a 1-3-1, and we tried to take control of (Jeffrey),” Robinson said. “We tried to rebound well. We actually rebounded the ball well. We limited Madison Central to one shot that second quarter.”

The Jaguars came out strong in the third quarter, led by Jeffrey’s eight points to take a 35-34 lead into the final quarter.

“We just let them back in the game,” Williams said. “We had it, we just let them back in it.”

The Gators resumed the lead, but a pair of 3-pointers finished them off.

Down 47-44, Akins drained a three to tie the game. Craighead, who finished with nine points, hit his first 3-pointer of the game to give the Jaguars the win.

“We were just thinking that we had the game,” Williams said. “They beat us by 20 the first time, so we were thinking we could come back and win. We just slowed down on defense.”