Gators, Missy Gators trying to right ship after 2003-04

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

[11/1/04]Finishing with a losing record and being bounced out of the division tournament in one game wasn’t exactly the kind of encore Vicksburg High’s boys basketball team hoped for.

The Gators entered the year as the defending Class 5A state champions, but they had lost four starters from that title run. Adding to the complications was a switch from shooting guard to point guard for Sederick Williams, who never quite settled in to his new role.

So can this year’s crop can fare better than last year’s 13-16 record?

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“That’s a good question,” VHS coach Dellie Robinson said, following a big sigh. “Certainly we’ve got a few kids coming back from last year’s team, but we still have a problem with height and we still have a problem with point guard.

“This is Sederick Williams’ second year playing point guard, and hopefully he will do a much better job of distributing the basketball and feeding his teammates, especially early in the season, and then look for his shot a little bit later.”

Williams was the main source for scoring last season, averaging 17.2 points per game, but he struggled with running the offense and spreading the ball among his teammates. With some time to practice in the offseason, the senior said he feels more confident in his role.

“I feel a lot more comfortable now, but I don’t feel I’m where I want to be,” said Williams, who admits he still misses open players downcourt on occassion. “I think I’ll have it by the middle of the season. I like point guard, and I’m going to get it.”

The Gators do have depth at the position something they lacked last year. Juniors Frederick Denton and Lester Davenport may play some point. Senior Fred Thomas, who saw time at point guard down the stretch last season, will share some of the ball-handling duties once he returns to the team after the football season.

Robinson hopes the added depth will help Vicksburg against press defenses and reduce the Gators’ 26 turnovers per game from a year ago.

“We didn’t do a good job of handling the basketball, especially in the press,” he said. “I guess one of the reasons was because of the point guard. I think that’s our biggest challenge that I’m looking at, because we’re going to have to be able to handle the ball.”

Another area of concern is inside, where the Gators’ tallest player, Edwin Gaskin, is 6-4 and played on the “B” team last season.

“He’s not an experienced guy like we’d like to have, but he’s the biggest forward we’ve got,” Robinson said. “We’re going to get him the ball a lot more, and he’s really improved since last year.”

The lack of height puts more pressure on shooters like Williams, Brandon Harper and Johnny Markham.

“The way we’re working this year, I feel a lot more confident that I should be able to get the job done,” said Markham, who battled inconsistency much of last season. “We’ve got a good bench, too. When one of us comes out the game, we’ve got somebody that will step in and do the same thing.”

Despite all the question marks, the Gators are confident that they can return to form and be the dominant team in Division 6-5A.

The schedule also may work to their benefit. Vicksburg ends the season with four home games and hosts both the Red Carpet Classic on Jan. 29 and the Division Tournament from Feb. 15-18.

“There’s a good chance for us, but it ain’t going to be a cakewalk,” Williams said. “We should be ready at home. The goals should be high and we should get there, and that’s win district, win the satellite game and go on to South State.”