Brandon knocks off Missy Gators

Published 1:05 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vicksburg’s Karry Callahan (33) and Brandon’s Charisma Walker jockey for position under the basket during Friday’s game. Brandon won, 53-39.

Vicksburg’s Karry Callahan (33) and Brandon’s Charisma Walker jockey for position under the basket during Friday’s game. Brandon won, 53-39.

Vicksburg’s Edward Davis (3) dishes the ball to Justin Selvy for a layup Friday against Brandon. Defending on the play is Brandon’s Tray Lawson.

Vicksburg’s Edward Davis (3) dishes the ball to Justin Selvy for a layup Friday against Brandon. Defending on the play is Brandon’s Tray Lawson.

The Vicksburg Missy Gators are heading into the playoffs on a six-game losing streak that’s lasted nearly a month. As far as losses go, however, Friday’s was a bit easier to swallow than most.

The Missy Gators played Brandon to a standstill for three quarters, but couldn’t overcome a rough start. The Lady Bulldogs got 20 points from Tytiana Hall, 17 more from Olivia Countiss, and rode a big early surge to a 53-39 victory.

Vicksburg (8-14) hasn’t won since beating O’Bannon on Jan. 18, but has had several competitive losses along the way. The latest one, to a Brandon team sporting a 21-5 record and state championship aspirations, wasn’t a terrible way to finish the regular season, VHS coach Barbara Hartzog said.

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“That was a good game to play going into district. If we would’ve played somebody we blew out, that doesn’t help. You play teams that are better than you so you get better,” Hartzog said. “But you’ve got to learn to accept the challenge. I think they did. They didn’t back down from them.”

Ruddie Shears led Vicksburg with 10 points. Kailin Young had nine points and 10 rebounds, and Karry Callahan had nine points and nine rebounds.

The Missy Gators were done in by a poor first quarter. Cousins opened the scoring for Brandon with a pair of 3-pointers to trigger a 16-2 run, and the Lady Bulldogs never trailed.

Vicksburg got as close as nine points midway through the third quarter, only to see Cousins drill another 3-pointer and Charisma Walker an inside layup to restore Brandon’s lead to 38-24.

The margin never got larger than 18 points, but the Missy Gators never again got it back to single digits.

“The first quarter, we couldn’t score. We were getting the shots but they weren’t falling,” Hartzog said. “I just think, basically, they’re a good team. They’re number eight in the state. I don’t think anything in our district will match them, and we hung with them.”

Up next for the Missy Gators is the Division 4-5A Tournament. They’ll play top-seeded Lanier Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Pearl. Although her team didn’t win a division game this season, Hartzog liked the matchup. Vicksburg led Lanier in the fourth quarter of their first meeting, then lost in double overtime last week.

“I think the pressure is on them more than us, because we were in the game both times,” Hartzog said. “It’s a good matchup. That’s who I would’ve wanted to play.”

(B) Brandon 66, Vicksburg 59

A late shooting swoon sent the Vicksburg Gators into the playoffs with a loss.

The Gators missed their last five shots from the field Friday night, allowing Brandon to close the game on a 9-2 run and pull away in a late-season matchup of Mississippi heavyweights.

“It was as simple as missing shots. We had some good looks at it and we just missed them,” VHS coach Dellie C. Robinson said.

De’Angelo Richardson led Vicksburg (15-6) with 15 points and Edward Davis scored 12 in the two seniors’ final home game. Tray Lawson led Brandon (21-7) with 24 points and Howard Thomas scored 12.

De’Vonta Brisco drilled a 3-pointer for the Gators to tie the game at 57 with about three minutes to play, but they went cold after that. Thomas hit shots in the paint on consecutive possessions to put Brandon ahead 63-59 with 2:20 left, and the Bulldogs closed out the game at the foul line.

Brandon was 8-for-10 from the line in the fourth quarter. Vicksburg was 9-for-12 in the game.

“It seemed like nothing would fall,” Davis said. “That’s real bad, and senior night made it worse. But we’ll come through. We’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for Pearl on Tuesday.”

The Gators will next face host Pearl in the Division 4-5A Tournament Tuesday night at 8:30. The teams split two meetings this season, with each winning on their home floor.

“It’s going to be one of those same kind of games, that you’re going to have to win the game in the fourth quarter,” Robinson said. “We’re going to have to make some plays down the stretch, especially on Pearl’s home floor.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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