Gators face tall order in Shannon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vicksburg makes the long trek to the northeast Mississippi hills when they battle Shannon in a North State 4A satellite-round playoff game tonight.

Hopefully, the long ride can be a cure for what is ailing the Gators’ moribund offense. In three games at the Division 3-4A Tournament, Vicksburg (19-9) averaged just 42 points a game in a 1-2 stretch that resulted in a fourth-place finish. The end result is a trip to Shannon (16-10), the champions of Division 1-4A.

Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson’s scouting report says the Red Raiders coached by former Ole Miss guard Cedric Brim, like to run.

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“Maybe that will help us score more. They like to put it up. They like to play fast, which is the opposite of what we faced last week. Everybody we faced last week was real patient and slowed the game down,” Robinson said.

In two losses, Vicksburg had problems against Ridgeland’s matchup zone and then again against Yazoo City’s towering 2-3 zone.

Robinson said his team could not respond after blowing an 11-point lead to Ridgeland in the divisional semifinals and then losing 52-48. They were beaten the next night by Yazoo City, 43-34.

“If our team shows up, we’ll be fine. But we tend to take nights off. After we lost to Ridgeland, we took that night off, escept for one little spurt in the second half when we got it down to five,” Robinson said.

Despite its record, Shannon has played some good teams. Two of the losses have come against Tupelo (66-59 and 61-56), top-ranked Meridian (65-52), Olive Branch (77-66) and Columbus (67-54).

In their divisional final win over Pontotoc, Alex Thornton and Denardo Watkins keyed the Red Raiders second half comeback with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Thornton had 24 points in the 71-64 win while Watkins had 20.

“They don’t have much of an inside game. They look to drive, kick out and shoot the three,” Robinson said.

Vicksburg will counter with a  big line-up led by 6-foot-7 senior center Denzell Erves and 6-5 sophomore Mychal Ammons. Junior wing Kelsey Howard is the team’s top scorer and averaged 17 points per game in the division tournament. Ammons averaged 9 ppg., while Erves led in rebounding.

Senior Jeremy Squire has provided a spark in the last two games, giving the Gators another perimeter shooter. Squire has made four 3-pointers in his last two outings.

In other playoff action tonight, Hinds AHS (25-2) will host a Class 2A South satellite game in Utica against East Marion. Hinds won the Division 6-2A title last week in McLaurin. They are led by forwards Derek and Erik Burks.

Port Gibson (25-4) heads south to Bay St. Louis to battle the Tigers in a Class 4A South satellite game.


Contact Jeff Byrd at