Vicksburg starts fast|Gators, Missy Gators zoom out to 6-1 records

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 26, 2009

Although both of its coaches prefer a defensive-minded approach, Vicksburg High’s basketball teams are off and running this season.

Both the Gators and Missy Gators are 6-1 through the season’s first two weeks. While it’s still early, and both teams have obvious flaws that need to be fixed, the fast start has given them a lift as they head into a rough stretch of the schedule.

The next two weeks include matchups with strong programs from Forest Hill, Jim Hill and Raymond before the division opener at home against Warren Central on Dec. 12.

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“It’s been a good month of November. But November isn’t going to make or break you. You’ve got to be playing like this at the end,” Missy Gators coach Barbara Hartzog said.

Hartzog’s team has been winning with defense.

They’re averaging more than 10 steals per game and have yet to give up 60 points to any opponent. In four of their six games, the Missy Gators had at least one quarter where they allowed less than 10 points. In six of the 24 total quarters they’ve played, they’ve given up less than 10 points.

The defense has had to be strong, too, since the offense hasn’t been. Vicksburg has shot in the 30 percent range most nights. That’s left less margin for error than there could have been had they just made a few more shots around the basket. Three of VHS’ first six games have been decided by four points or less, and the only loss was by two points to Forest Hill.

“We’re working more as a unit, and that’s helping each other out,” Hartzog said. “Our consistency is getting stronger each game. We live and die on defense.”

Vicksburg’s boys, meanwhile, have spent the first two weeks of the season establishing themselves as the favorite in Division 4-6A. While none of the other three teams in the division — Greenville-Weston, Clinton and Warren Central — currently have a winning record, the Gators won their first five.

The one loss, though, was troubling enough to put a damper on all that.

Provine, ranked No. 22 in the country by USA Today, handed VHS its first loss last Thursday, 74-57. The Rams’ defense pressured Vicksburg into 20 turnovers and limited it to 32 percent shooting. Vicksburg stayed in the game for the most part. An 11-2 run just before halftime gave Provine some breathing room in an otherwise even matchup. But the turnovers and poor shooting against a quality team gave the Gators pause.

“We’ve never seen that type of defense before and it shocked us,” VHS forward Mychal Ammons said.

Vicksburg isn’t likely to see that kind of defense often, either. Provine won three consecutive Class 5A championships from 2006-08, and was the runner-up last year. The schedule over the next two weeks is difficult and includes a rematch with Canton, which Vicksburg beat by two points in the Vicksburg-Warren Tournament last week. But there are only a handful of games left on the regular-season schedule against the state’s elite teams.

VHS coach Dellie C. Robinson said the next few games will give his team a chance to work out the kinks.

“We want to be able to work on getting the ball inside better,” Robinson said. “We want to find a guard to run some sets and get the ball down low to (Ammons).”


Contact Ernest Bowker at