Callaway rules Warren Central Classic|[12/01/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Vicksburg Gators have a strong team this season. They have potent scorers, capable rebounders, and good playmakers.

They also have one very bad habit.

The Gators suffered through a woeful shooting night Friday as they rushed shots and declined to pass out of double and triple teams near the basket. It was the same pattern they fell into in their only loss of the season to Forest Hill 11 days earlier, and it ended up resulting in their second defeat.

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Laquinton Ross hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half, and Callaway overcame Vicksburg with a late run to claim a 46-42 win in the boys championship game of the Warren Central Classic.

“We’ve got to learn to take care of the ball,” said Vicksburg’s Maurice Williams, who had 12 points and six rebounds. “If we can do that we should go pretty far.”

Deville Smith added 20 points for Callaway (6-0), while Jonathan Phelps scored 14 for Vicksburg (8-2).

The Gators led 15-11 after one quarter, but went just 3-for-16 from the field over the next 14 minutes. For the game, VHS shot 34 percent from the field and went 9-for-19 from the foul line. The poor shooting kept them from extending the lead and set the stage for Callaway’s decisive run in the final minutes.

“I thought Callaway’s defense had a lot to do with that. But we didn’t execute,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said. “We settled for long jump shots when we should’ve been more patient with the basketball.”

Vicksburg pulled its act together near the end of the third quarter and used a quick 6-2 spurt to take a 30-28 lead into the final period. Ross got hot, though, hitting two 3-pointers to help the Chargers tie the game at 36 with 3:19 to play.

Vicksburg then went cold again while Callaway got hot. Callaway finished the game with a 10-4 run. Smith scored four points, and Julysses Nobles had the go-ahead basket on a steal and layup. Vicksburg’s final points came on an uncontested layup with 2 seconds to play. Callaway allowed the Gators to go the length of the floor, trading the final seconds for a meaningless basket.

“We had some opportunities with the lead to do some things and we didn’t execute well,” Robinson said.

While Callaway took home the tournament trophy, its coach wasn’t celebrating just yet. This was merely the first of four possible meetings this season between the Division 3-4A rivals. Round two is Dec. 11 at Callaway, and they’ll play again Jan. 22 at Vicksburg. They could also face each other in the division tournament in February.

“Like I told the guys, don’t get fooled by that trophy because this is a game that we won that doesn’t count,” Callaway coach Wayne Brent said. “I think it hurts us because it doesn’t do us any good. We could lose the next two and nobody remembers we won that tournament at Warren Central.”