Avoiding the titans|WC aims for top seed, VHS aims to snap skid

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Vicksburg Gators and Warren Central Vikings still don’t know who they’ll face in their division tournaments.

They know who they don’t want to face, though, and avoiding those juggernauts is the focus of their few remaining games.

Warren Central can wrap up the No. 3 seed in the Division 4-5A tournament by winning at Clinton tonight. Doing so would allow it to avoid a first-round matchup with two-time defending Class 5A champion Provine, which has already clinched the No. 1 seed, in the tournament’s one-and-done format.

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

Vicksburg, meanwhile, has a tougher gauntlet to get through. It must win at least two of its last three division games, beginning tonight at home against Lanier, to avoid a possible second-round game against Callaway.

Callaway has run roughshod over Division 3-4A, one of the state’s toughest, compiling a 10-1 record and clinching the top seed already. It will also host the division tournament. If Vicksburg wins out, it will finish second in the division and won’t have to face Callaway until the championship game. A loss or two, however, could drop VHS into fourth or fifth place and set up the second-round meeting.

“That’s big. That’s huge. You don’t want to see Callaway until the championship game because they’re phenomenal. It’s important for us to finish second or third,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said. “If we win the next two, we’ll be no worse than third.”

The Gators are reeling heading into tonight’s game with Lanier. Leading scorer Kelsey Howard suffered a hip injury last Monday against Provine, and missed three games. Two of those were blowout losses, to Callaway and St. Stanislaus. VHS scored a total of 56 points in those two games.

On Friday, the Gators (15-6, 7-4 in division play) face Pearl and next Tuesday they’re at Yazoo City. Both games are on the road, and neither will be easy. The key one is tonight, though. Lanier (6-5 in division play) won the first meeting between the teams earlier this month, and can drop the Gators into the dreaded fourth spot with another victory.

Robinson hoped playing one of the state’s traditional powers, especially with so much on the line, would be enough to shake his team from its slump.

“You’re playing a pretty good basketball team. Even though they’re not the Lanier of old, they’re still pretty good,” Robinson said. “If you hear that name, Lanier, and it doesn’t make you want to play, I don’t know what would make you want to play.”

While the Gators try to improve their tournament seeding tonight, Warren Central’s girls team will try to sew up the top spot in Division 4-5A when it plays at Clinton (2-2 in division play). It’s the first of two division games this week for the Lady Vikes (18-2, 4-0) — the other is Friday at Greenville-Weston (2-2) — and they can clinch the No. 1 seed by winning either one. Although WC has been the team to beat in the division all season, coach Donny Fuller said any of the league’s four teams can beat the other on any given night. WC beat Clinton by 11 and Greenville by 18 the first time around, but didn’t put either game away until the fourth quarter.

“Anybody can win. Clinton and Greenville split, and Greenville beat Provine by three. It’s not where one team is a whole lot better than the rest of us,” Fuller said.

Neither of St. Aloysius’ teams have been as dominant as the Lady Vikes this season, but both of them also face a stretch run that can improve their tournament seeding. The Flashes (5-6 in Division 7-1A) and Lady Flashes (3-8) are both in the middle of the division standings and can shuffle around a spot or two depending on the outcome. St. Al hosts Pelahatchie in its home finale.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com.