Gators can’t reel in mighty Meridian

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RIDGELAND — Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson feels his Gators are letting some pretty big prey slip from their grasp this season.

Monday night’s clash with No. 1-ranked Meridian was a prime example. The Gators (8-3) were down by four points with 1:59 left, but three straight turnovers and two missed shots allowed Meridian (8-1) to escape with a 61-53 win at the Ridgeland Christmas Classic.

“We were right there, just like Callaway and just like Provine,” Robinson said. “That’s three we should have.”

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Robinson felt his Gators (8-3) could have won had South Alabama signee Mychal Ammons played a better game.

Ammons finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists, but only scored two points in the first half — both of them coming in the first quarter. He picked up his second foul early in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the period.

That was enough of an opening for Mississippi State signee Rodney Hood, a 6-foot-8 senior widely considered the best player in the state, to exert himself. Hood made just 1 of 8 shots in the first quarter, but came back to drop 6 of 8 in the second to turn a nine-point deficit into a 35-33 lead for Meridian at halftime.

Hood finished with 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Meridian (11-1). Marcus Hurn added 12 points.

“Mike’s got to bring his ‘A’ game against a team like Meridian.” Robinson said. “That’s because I expect a lot out of him.”

Meridian scored the first five points of the third quarter to go up seven. Ammons, however, brought the Gators back. He had nine points in the quarter to pull Vicksburg within 50-45.

A basket by Josh Gaskin, who had 15 points for Vicksburg, made it 55-51 with 4:35 left. Meridian got a 3-pointer from Hurn go to up 58-51. Ammons’ final basket brought the deficit to five at 58-53 with two minutes to go.

Vicksburg made three straight stops, but got nothing out of it as two turnovers and a missed shot by Kienta Ross killed its chances.

A 3-pointer by Meridian with 44 seconds left sealed it.

“We made some big shots when we needed to do,” Meridian coach Randy Bolden said. “Vicksburg has a good team and they played us well.”

Gaskin, who also had six rebounds, said the Gators will grow from this.

“Too many turnovers and a lack of execution hurt us,” Gaskin said.