Forest Hill takes heavyweight battle in OT|[11/20/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In six years, Clay Norton has built Forest Hill’s boys basketball program into one of the finest in the state.

On Monday, he added Vicksburg High to the Rebels’ early-season list of casualties.

Terrell Kennedy scored a game-high 29 points to lead four Rebels in double figures in an 87-81 overtime victory over the previously unbeaten Gators (6-1).

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“I give all the glory to God and the credit to my players,” said Norton, whose team has already beaten preseason No. 1 New Hope and came within four of knocking off mighty Lanier. “I’m just here for the ride.”

Jonathan Phelps led Vicksburg with 27 points and Maurice Williams added 14, but the Gators let a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter slip away, then were bombarded in overtime.

“They executed well down the stretch and they were a lot more patient than we were,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said. “I thought if we would have been more patient and made the extra pass, we could have gotten the ball to where we needed it to go. I think we need to work on that, especially down the stretch.

“Forest Hill is a seasoned team, though, and you are going to have to beat them. They are not going to beat themselves.”

Vicksburg led 69-59 with 3 minutes, 44 seconds to play in the game. A 3-pointer by Joshua Moore coupled with two baskets off of Vicksburg turnovers got Forest Hill within a bucket at 69-67. The Rebels took a 73-71 lead with 1:30 to play before Williams scored on an assist from freshman Mychal Ammons to tie the game at 73.

Forest Hill kept the ball the rest of the quarter. It had a shot at the win with 1.7 seconds to play, but a long 3-point attempt by Andre Stronger bounced off the rim, sending the game into overtime.

“We knew Forest Hill was not going to self-destruct,” Robinson said. “We had watched them trail Lanier by 13 the other night and come back with a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. We just hoped to make better decisions with the basketball and be a little more patient on offense.”

Forest Hill scored the first eight points of overtime, taking an 81-73 lead. The Gators got no closer than eight in the extra frame.

“We knew they weren’t going to just let us have the game, we were going to have to take it from them,” said Vicksburg’s John Qualls, who came off the bench to score 12 points.

Jaybri Williams added 13 points and Ammons netted 11 for the Gators. Josh Moore scored 20 and Stronger netted 14 for the Rebels.

(G) FH 57, Vicksburg 37

Two days after beating Warren Central, the Vicksburg Missy Gators stumbled at home to Forest Hill.

The Missy Gators hit only 12 of 53 shots from the field and suffered through a five-point second quarter in falling to 4-3 on the season.

Alexus Stirgus led Vicksburg with 15 points and Kamiko Martin scored 13. Vertesha Taylor led Forest Hill with 14 points and Courtney Marbra scored 11.

Vicksburg trailed by two at the end of the first quarter, but a 17-5 Forest Hill scoring edge in the second gave the vistitors a 14-point halftime lead. The Lady Rebels kept the lead in double figures for the rest of the game.

(G) WC 70, Ridgeland 49

Sha’Kayla Caples scored a game-high 27 points, Karnina Bunch scored 18 and Vernadette Hale netted 11 as the Lady Vikes (3-3) bounced back from a loss to Vicksburg on Saturday.

Warren Central outscored Ridgeland 17-6 in the second quarter to take a 35-22 lead at halftime. WC was not threatened the rest of the way.

(G) Washington 60, PCA 24

E.J. Creel’s debut as Porters Chapel’s new boys coach will have to wait until next week. The Eagles cancelled Monday night’s scheduled opener with Washington School. PCA will instead open its season under Creel next Monday against Tallulah Academy.

The PCA girls, meanwhile, did play Washington School and the result wasn’t pretty. The Lady Generals rolled to the easy win by jumping on the Lady Eagles 17-4 in the first quarter. They led 33-12 at the half.

Megan McKinnion led Washington School with 17 points and Morgan Lott had 12. PCA (0-3) was led by Katie Atkins with seven and Erin Purvis with six.

(B) St. Al 46, St. Joe 44

Alex Lanier hit an off-balance 10-footer at the buzzer to lift St. Al over Madison-St. Joe for its first win of the season.

Lanier scored a game-high 24 points, none bigger than the last two. He got the ball at the top of the key with four seconds left, dribbled around the edge of the key, then let fly his shot that fell for the game-winner. Lanier thought there was less time than that when he got the ball.

“I was thinking maybe two seconds left,” he said. “I was thinking when I made my move it was too late. But I had to do something.”

Lanier’s shot salvaged an otherwise disastrous fourth quarter for the Flashes (1-3). They squandered a nine-point lead with a flurry of turnovers, and missed several shots down the stretch. St. Joe was almost as bad, as the teams combined for a half-dozen turnovers in the last two minutes. St. Al ended up with the ball last, and Lanier put an end to the ugly basketball with an ugly shot that quickly turned beautiful.

“With 10 seconds left I heard him call for it,” said St. Al guard Jeremy Falls, who scored four points. “He called for the ball and when Alex calls for it, you give it to him.”