Gators, Vikings soar into tournament finals|[11/10/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 10, 2006

Having coached at Canton High School for 10 years, Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson knows all about the tradition of Tiger basketball.

That’s why Thursday’s 70-62 win in the semifinals of the Vicksburg Warren Classic was especially sweet.

&#8220Canton is a basketball town. That’s why this a great win for us. No doubt about it,” Robinson said. &#8220We knew Hazlehurst wouldn’t be much for us because they are without their football players. Canton, though, that’s a quality team.”

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The Gators (2-0) advance to Saturday afternoon’s championship game against Warren Central at 2:30. Canton (1-1) will face Wingfield in a 1 p.m. consolation game.

Jonathan Phelps again powered Vicksburg with a game-high 37 points. His scoring outburst came two days after he torched Hazlehurst for 35. Phelps sat out a good part of the second half with leg cramps.

&#8220I got a cramp in my calf. I just tried to fight through it,” said Phelps, who still managed to score 11 points after the cramp started.

His basket in traffic with three minutes to go broke a 57-57 tie. He then got help when Maurice Williams finished off a break by draining a 3-pointer to make it 62-57 with 2:35 left.

&#8220My teammates pulled me through, especially when Maurice hit that three,” Phelps said.

Down eight with less than a minute to play, Canton’s Javarsa Blackman took advantage of Phelps’ leg problems by stripping him of the ball and converting a three-point play to make it 65-60 with 48.8 seconds left.

Phelps answered on the inbound, hauling in the full-court pass for a driving layup to increase the lead back to seven. Two free throws by Jabri Williams with 14 seconds left gave VHS a 10-point lead.

Phelps made 12 field goals and was 13-of-21 from the free throw line. All of his baskets either came on drives to the basket or a quick pull-up jumper.

Jabri Williams finished with nine points while John Qualls led a strong effort on the boards against the taller Tigers with 10 rebounds.

(G) Vicksburg 56, Forest Hill 52.

Two free throws by Keisha Collins and a layup by Tiffany Williams in the final 12 seconds lifted the Missy Gators into the tournament final against Warren Central.

Kamiko Martin paced VHS (2-0) with 18 points, including a key 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Williams finished with 15 points.

Mario Luckett showed Thursday night that, sometimes, it’s all about timing.

Warren Central’s senior forward hit a leaning 6-foot jumper with 6 seconds to play, giving the Vikings a 61-59 win over No. 9 Wingfield in the semifinals of the Vicksburg Warren Classic.

Although Luckett finished with a game-high 21 points, the game-winning basket was his only field goal of the second half.

&#8220I guess it was like my birthday or something, I was so happy,” said Luckett, who had 18 points in the first half. &#8220I just ended up with the ball and drove it hard, and it ended up good.”

Tim Kendricks led Wingfield (1-1) with 15 points and Christopher Wallace added 12. Shone Ester scored 16 points for Warren Central (2-0), which advanced to face rival Vicksburg in Saturday’s championship game at WC. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

The Vikings almost failed to punch their ticket, though. They led Wingfield by as many as 10 points, 57-47, with four minutes to play before a Wingfield went on a 12-4 game-ending run that made Luckett’s heroics necessary.

With the score 57-49 and 2:20 to play, Wingfield’s Tim Kendricks hit a shot and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but teammate Jeremain Mallet cleaned up the putback to cut it to 57-53. Kendricks added two free throws and Wallace hit a shot over the next minute to tie the game and set up a frantic finish.

&#8220I think it was a combination of fatigue and a mental letdown,” WC coach Jessie Johnson said. &#8220That’s the things we need to avoid, and we’ll be one of the most competitive teams in our district.”

Rodney Wince put the Vikings back in front, 59-57, with a basket with about 1:30 to play and a pair of defensive gems maintained the lead. Kendricks was called for a charge with 50.3 seconds left and Casey Brown stripped Wingfield’s Maurice Bolden on a breakway with 30 seconds remaining. Brown’s strip went out of bounds, however, and Bolden hit a 15-foot jumper with 22 seconds left to tie the game at 59.

Warren Central brought the ball back up the floor and Ester drove the lane as the clock ticked below 10 seconds. He found a cutting Luckett in the lane, and Luckett rattled home his leaner to give the Vikings a 61-59 lead. A long 3-pointer by Wingfield at the buzzer was well off the mark.

&#8220This is a very strong building block for us because we’ve seen the type of mistakes we make and we can build on it,” Johnson said.

(G) WC 69, Port Gibson 44.

Warren Central went inside early and often against Port Gibson, riding sophomore sensation Sha’Kayla Caples to an easy win over the Blue Waves.

Caples finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for WC, and Karnina Bunch added 11. Eugena Grigsby, a seventh-grader, led Port Gibson (2-2) with 14 points.

Caples scored 13 points in the first half and dominated in the low post, helping the Lady Vikes (2-0) surge to a 16-point halftime lead. They steadily pulled away from there in the second half.

&#8220We felt like we could take it to them inside because we were bigger, and we did a better job taking care of the basketball than we did the other night. We didn’t turn it over a lot,” said Warren Central coach Donny Fuller, whose team committed only seven turnovers in the first half and finished with 15 for the game.

Warren Central advanced to face archrival Vicksburg in Saturday’s championship game at Vicksburg High. It will be the first of six possible meetings between the teams this season.

&#8220Here lately we hadn’t played each other early. We know we have to play them sooner or later, so you might as well get it done early,” Fuller said.

(B) P. Gibson 59, Natchez 41.

Josh Coleman scored 10 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and Kadeem Fleming added 19 points as Port Gibson routed Natchez in the loser’s bracket of the Vicksburg Warren Classic. The Blue Waves eased out to a 12-point lead at halftime and cruised from there.

Cameron Logan led Natchez with 19 points. He scored 11 of his team’s 13 points in the third quarter.