Coleman, Missy Gators ready for familiar opponent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

[12/26/04]There are too many familiar faces and not enough hard feelings to say Mike Coleman is out for revenge at this week’s Raymond tournament.

That doesn’t mean he’s not looking forward to coaching against two of his former teams, however.

Coleman will take his Vicksburg Missy Gators east to Raymond for the three-day round-robin tournament, which begins Monday aternoon. VHS will open against Hinds AHS, then play Raymond on Tuesday and Ridgeland Wednesday.

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Coleman started his coaching career at Utica High, which was located just up the road from Hinds AHS before closing in 1994. He then moved to Raymond for five years before coming to Vicksburg in 1999.

“It’s fun to me to go over to Raymond and play there. That’s why this tournament is special to me. I’d really like to go over there and win it,” Coleman said. “There’s no revenge to it.

“When I left Raymond it was time to make a move, and I’m glad I did it, but there’s no hard feelings.”

While the trip will be fun for Coleman, VHS boys coach Dellie Robinson will have his work cut out for him in the opener.

Hinds AHS is ranked No. 1 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Class 2A basketball poll, and Robinson said the War Dawgs are deserving of their ranking.

“Hinds has a real good basketball team. They’re solid. They’ve got a real good press, they’re quick and very athletic,” Robinson said. “We’re definitely going to have to do a good job. They play a 2-1-2, three-quarter court press and really get after it.”

Robinson added that the winner of Monday night’s game figures to be the one hoisting the championship trophy on Wednesday. The Gators come in with a 9-7 record and a two-game winning streak. Several of their losses have come after wasting second-half leads.

“Whoever wins that first game will be the tournament champion. I believe that,” Robinson said.

About 10 miles east, Warren Central will have its hands full at the ultra-competitive Jackson Public Schools Tournament.

The Vikings will open the tournament on Monday at 11:30 a.m. against Wingfield at Lanier. If WC wins that game, it will be matched up against top-ranked Lanier on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Lanier features senior guard Monta Ellis, considered by many recruiting services as the top guard in the country. He committed to Mississippi State.

The Lady Vikes will have an equally difficult road if they get past Wingfield in the opener. Warren Central’s road to a championship could be against No. 7 Meridian, No. 9 Callaway just to reach the finals. If WC makes it that far, powerful Murrah, Crystal Springs or Provine will likely be in waiting.

“This bracket, top to bottom, with 16 teams, is as strong as I have seen it,” Lady Vikes coach Donny Fuller said. “… Whoever wins this tournament should be ranked No. 1 in the state.”