Gators hang close before succumbing to Murrah

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 10, 2005

[1/8/05]Vicksburg High played even with or better than No. 5 Murrah for about 25 of the 32 minutes in Friday night’s game. It was those other seven minutes three at the start of the game and four at the start of the third quarter that sent the Gators to their second straight loss.

Murrah never trailed after opening the game with an 11-0 run, then put the Gators away with a 15-4 spurt in the second half in claiming a 65-56 win.

Damien Bounds led Murrah (16-4) with 20 points, Mike Johnson had 16 and Ken White added 13. Sederick Williams scored 17 points and Brandon Harper led VHS (11-10) with 18 points. Edwin Gaskin had 10 points and nine rebounds.

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“It’s frustrating to be so close, and you just can’t get over the hump,” said Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson, whose team lost to a solid Hinds AHS team on Tuesday. “It’s just a learning process for us.”

Murrah jumped on the Gators from the outset, taking an 11-0 lead before Edwin Gaskin put VHS on the board with a 15-foot jumper with 4 1/2 minutes to play in the first quarter.

Gaskin’s basket started a 7-0 run for the Gators, and they eventually tied the game at 18-18 in the second quarter. Murrah regained the lead and took a 26-25 edge into halftime. Williams missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have given Vicksburg the lead, and it never got close again.

Murrah came out of the locker room and went on a 15-4 run to go ahead 41-29. A 3-pointer by Williams was Vicksburg’s only field goal during the stretch as the Gators went 1-for-6 from the field.

“We tell our kids all the time that the first three or four minutes of the third quarter is kind of critical. Usually it’s going to make you or break you,” said Murrah coach Bob Frith, whose team was without star Jeremy Wise, who was out with illness.

The Mustangs stretched the lead to as many as 17 points, 60-43, before VHS clawed its way back midway through the fourth quarter. Williams hit a 3-pointer and Gaskin hit two free throws to key an 11-2 VHS run that pulled them within 62-54 with 1:40 to play.

The Gators went cold after that, though. They missed three 3-pointers in the last two minutes, failing to get the rebound each time, and Murrah went 3-for-6 from the line in the same stretch to ice it.

(G) Murrah 51, VHS 38

Murrah used a 12-2 run in the third quarter to put some space between itself and a pesky Vicksburg squad, then finished the game with an 11-3 run to thwart another Missy Gator comeback and score a 13-point victory.

Rachel Jenkins led VHS (11-10) with 11 points, Kendra Sims had eight and Kristin Ellis had seven points and four steals. Jessica Mitchell had a game-high 13 points for Murrah (14-5) and Nicole Lowe added 10.

“We had to start gambling with a minute or two minutes to go and gave up a couple of easy layups,” VHS coach Mike Coleman said. “If we had played ball the first three quarters like we were supposed to, we wouldn’t have been in that position anyway. We’ve just got to start getting maximum effort from everybody. I don’t know, right now, really and truly if we’re getting that or not.

“I felt for the first time since I’ve been coaching girls basketball that we had a better team than Murrah, and we couldn’t capitalize on it.”

After a sloppy start Vicksburg had five turnovers and only one field goal attempt in the first five minutes, while Murrah was 4-for-17 in the same span the teams settled in.

Neither was able to get any distance until Murrah went on a 12-2 run over the last half of the third quarter. The surge turned a two-point lead into a 38-26 edge heading into the fourth period.

Vicksburg got back in the game with a 9-2 run early in the fourth quarter to pull within 40-35. Murrah put the game away with its late push, however.

The Lady Mustangs scored their last 11 points either on layups or at the free throw line.