Gators have all of the tools to make it to the Big House

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

The higher the climb, the steeper the fall.

Vicksburg’s basketball team is just one win away from the Big House, home of the Class 6A State Tournament.

The Gators found out in an 83-72 satellite round victory over Grenada that at this level, every team will be coming at you with both barrels loaded. Grenada hit 14 3-pointers and, if not for a career effort from Mychal Ammons, the Gators might have fallen.

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Speaking of that effort, the Gators will need it going into Friday’s Class 6A North State Tournament, which will be in the Swamp.

The name of the game is win on Friday for Vicksburg.

With no consolation game, which was a welcome step, the two teams that advance to Saturday receive the golden tickets to the Big House.

Vicksburg will square off against Tupelo, a team that in many ways is a mirror image of the Gators. The Golden Wave (28-3) can put up points like nobody’s business, averaging more than 70 points per game, thanks to a balanced scoring line with four players averaging double figures or close.

But the most impressive thing is that the Golden Wave swept away powerhouse Starkville, which plays in the early game.

A win there and the Gators will face the winner of Murrah or defending Class 6A and Grand Slam champion Starkville in the North State title game on Saturday.

Murrah has weathered the storm of the embarrassing Marlon Dorsey weight-belt incident by advancing to North State with a win over Greenville-Weston, but the Mustangs will have to get through a formidable Starkville squad that has both height and athleticism.

Starkville and Vicksburg have met once, with the Gators taking a 48-44 decision. The Yellowjackets have one of the state’s best big men, 6-8 junior Gavin Ware, and won’t be an easy mark if the Gators want the North State title.

Off in the distance in the South State Tournament looms title favorite Meridian , led by Mississippi State signee Rodney Hood. The two teams met on Dec. 20 in the Ridgeland tournament, with the Gators unable to rally from a late four-point deficit. Hood, a 6-8 forward, outscored Ammons 20-17 and got going after getting Ammons in foul trouble, something that the Gators would like to avoid.

The Gators have the experience to go all the way, as the entire starting lineup is composed of seniors. They have the shooting prowess, led by 3-point marksman Willie Gibbs. They have the college-bound star scorer, Ammons, who can do it all, as witnessed by his 44-point outing against Grenada.

They have an experienced point guard, Dominique Brown, who runs the show. They have a stopper, Kienta Ross, who can check post players or guards.

They have athletic forward Josh Gaskin, who is one of the state’s best rebounders and finishers in transition.

Best of all, the entire rotation is composed of relentless defenders who will think nothing of taking a hard charge under the basket.

As the cliché goes, defense wins championships and Vicksburg’s airtight ‘D’ is more than good enough to get it to the Big House.

Now it’s a question of putting it all together. Is this the year the Gators bring another Golden Ball back to The Swamp? Stay tuned.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at