Vikings struggle to find consistency

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Vicksburg High guard Sedrick Williams, left, goes in for a layup as Warren Central’s Seddrick Williams, back right, tries to defend on Saturday.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[2/10/4]Passes thrown away, missed shots, dribbles off the knee.

Saturday’s game between Vicksburg and Warren Central was rife with mistakes by both sides. Yet it seemed almost inevitable that the Gators (13-13, 3-3 Division 6-5A) would pull out with the win.

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As they have done for much of the season, the Vikings (10-14, 3-3) tried to tighten their grasp at the end of the game, only to let it slip through their fingers.

“We just did a poor job of executing all the way around,” WC coach Jesse Johnson said. “That was the poorest and worst executed game that we had this year. We picked a bad time to execute poorly and shoot poorly.”

Very much an up-and-down team, the Vikings have lost five games this season by three points or less, often with collapses in the closing minutes.

On Jan. 20, they defeated Northwest Rankin 90-83, but followed that up with a 59-55 loss to Vicksburg. The Vikings then dominated Bailey but lost to Grenada in the Red Carpet Classic. Prior to Saturday’s game, they edged division champion Forest Hill 68-67 in Jackson.

It has become a broken record and a perpetual struggle for Johnson, who repeatedly preaches to his players about driving to the goal and staying away from their weakness jumpers. But time and time again, the Vikings pulled up for difficult shots with a hand in the face on Saturday.

Warren Central shot 5 of 29 (17 percent) in the first half, and continued laying bricks in the second half to finish at 14 of 54 (26 percent) from the field and 3 of 20 (15 percent) from 3-point range.

With the game tied at 27 with just over 6 minutes remaining, the Gators went on a 10-0 run to seal their victory over their rival.

“We came down and threw up about six or seven jump shots,” Johnson said. “They ran out on it, and they made theirs and we missed ours. I told them to drive the ball to the basket, but they had it set in their minds that I’m open, so I’m going to shoot the jump shot.'”

Vicksburg, on the other hand, is on a roll. After some major growing pains midway through the season, the defending Class 5A state champions found themselves sitting at 7-13.

Now VHS is riding high with a six-game winning streak that has brought them back to .500.

“At the beginning we didn’t know each other, we didn’t know what we did,” VHS’ Sedrick Williams said. “But now we’re starting to learn, and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

VHS coach Dellie Robinson has shifted Fred Thomas to point guard and Williams back to shooting guard where he played last season to run the offense more efficiently. That one small change has paid big dividends for the Gators.

“Fred Thomas is beginning to handle the basketball a lot more and is making better decisions,” Robinson said.

The two teams will face off one last time in the first round of the Division 6-5A Tournament on Feb. 17. The tournament will be played at Warren Centtral.