Free throws lift Gators to key division win|[01/23/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vicksburg has not been known for its free throw shooting this season but on Tuesday night they were almost perfect.

The Gators took over sole possession of second place in Division 3-4A by hitting on 11 straight free throws in the second half to beat Callaway 61-51. Vicksburg (19-5, 8-2) has won seven straight games.

“Free throw shooting has been our Achilles’ heel and it was a big reason why we couldn’t finish games, but tonight we did an excellent job of finishing this game,” VHS coach Dellie C. Robinson said. “I think when that first free throw of Maurice’s (Willams) made those two bounces and then went in, that was big, because he relaxed after that.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Williams made four straight in a 45-second span to keep the Gators ahead by 10. The first free throw fell in after bouncing straight up three feet twice before falling through. He swished the last three, the last coming with 1 minute and 34 seconds left to give the Gators a 59-49 lead.

Jonathan Phelps, who had a game-best 30 points, capped off the Gators’ run of 11 straight makes with two with 1:22 left. The only two misses came with 26.5 seconds, but by then Callaway (14-9, 6-3) was already done. For the game, Vicksburg was 15-of-18 from the line.

“Coach has stressed to us that we need to make free throws in a game like this. We have our days when we can make them,” said Phelps, who was 6-of-6 from the line to go with 12 made field goals, six rebounds and four steals.

“Phelps was more aggressive for them and he made plays,” Callaway coach Wayne Brent said. “I tell ya, he did a good job of running that team and scoring big baskets when they needed them.”

For Phelps, it was just another big game against a Jackson Public School. He had 34 in a win over second-ranked Lanier on Jan. 4 at home.

“I guess, I just find my game for them,” Phelps said of his JPS magic.

Both teams came out of the gate briskly as VHS made 10 of 16 shots in the first quarter to take a 23-17 lead. Then the game grounded to a halt as the Gators made just 1 of 7 shots in the second quarter to go with five turnovers. They still managed to keep a 26-24 lead at the half.

Phelps scored 11 points in the third quarter along with two 3-pointers from Delmon Robinson to boost the lead to 45-39.

Callaway got the lead down to four twice, the last at 47-43 after a layup off a steal by Deville Smith. Phelps then hit two free throws at the five minute mark to put it back to six and Callaway could not come any closer.

Kelsey Howard had 11 points for the Gators. LaQuinton Ross had 14 points for Callaway.

(G) Callaway 56, VHS 54

Alisa Ross keyed a 9-0 run with seven straight points midway through the fourth quarter to rally the Lady Chargers (16-7, 8-1) past the Missy Gators (8-16, 2-8) Tuesday night.

Vicksburg went from three up to six down after the Callaway run. They came back to have a chance at a tie when Donyeah Mayfield hit a putback with 14.2 seconds remaining to make it 55-54.

Bianca Heard made one of two free throws with six seconds left to put Callaway up two. A potential tying 12-footer by Mayfield missed with one second left.

Taylor Ammons led VHS with 19 points and Mayfield had 12.

Callaway was led by Ross, Kiana James and Alexandria O’Neal with 16 apiece.

Vicksburg is scheduled for a crucial division game on Friday at Yazoo County, then will turn around Saturday afternoon for a matchup with Long Beach in the Red Carpet Classic.

VHS will be playing the middle two games with the boys starting at 1 p.m. and the girls at 2:30.