VHS connection keeps Choctaws rolling

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

[1/9/05]CLINTON Playing its best defensive game of the season, Mississippi College put the clamps down on visiting Texas Lutheran University 53-43 Saturday at A.E. Wood Coliseum.

The Choctaws’ aggressive, man-to-man defense frustrated the bigger Bulldogs, who made just 15 shots from the field. The defensive, half-court style-game was no problem for Vicksburg’s Jason Walker and Willie Powers.

The two former Vicksburg High grads were part of the team effort in leading MC to its ninth win in 11 games. The Choctaws also kept their lead in the American Southwest Conference’s East Division at 6-2.

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“We’re putting a lot more on defense this season,” said Walker, who starts for the Choctaws at point guard. “Last year we had an offensive-minded team.”

This is also a much deeper Choctaw team.

“We were basically a seven-man unit last year,” Walker said. “But this year, we can use the whole bench. That gives us more variety with our offense and we’re tougher on defense.”

One of the new players is Powers, a 6-foot-5 junior forward who transferred to MC after two seasons at Meridian Community College.

“To me, the competition level is about the same, but not as rough as it was in junior college,” Powers said. “Teams play more halfcourt here and that makes the game slower. You have to play with more teamwork here.”

At Meridian, Powers was part of an up-tempo, offensive team led by All-State JUCO guard Jamal Edmonson. Edmonson, who led the state in scoring, is now a backup guard for 18th ranked Mississippi State.

“That was fun, but I like defense. Ever since the 11th grade at Vicksburg High, I’ve always considered myself a defensive player,” Powers said.

On Saturday, Powers’ main job was to slow down TLU’s Tommy Stolhandske, a 6-foot, 7-inch post player and also the team’s leading scorer.

“Their big guy came in as the No. 1 scorer in the conference,” Powers said. “We had to knock down his average (today).”

Stolhandske eventually got to 17 points, but it was not enough to derail the Choctaws.

With 9:58 left in the game, Texas Lutheran had just 29 points and trailed MC by 20.

But over the next six minutes, the Choctaws could not get a shot to go down. During the stretch, Walker tried three times to drive the lane to create a shot but came up empty all three times.

“I had a bad shooting game, but that happens to the best of us,” Walker said.

Walker ended 1-of-7 from the field and had just two points. He did have six assists, of which four came in the first half to stake the Chocs to a 33-17 halftime lead.

“That’s my role. To provide senior leadership and get people the ball,” Walker said.

Coming into the TLU game, Powers had been averaging nine points per game, third best on the team. He is the second leading rebounder at 4.8.

“Both Jason and Willie are a big part of the reason we’re in first place in the East,” MC head coach Don Lofton said. “I was just really proud of our defensive effort today. Texas Lutheran came in as the co-pick favorite in the West, but we caused them some problems. It was a heckuva win for us.”