St. Aloysius set to host Dexter in rare playoff home game

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just two years ago, the St. Aloysius Flashes were at the bottom of the basketball heap in Mississippi.

They won one game in the 2011-12 season, and weren’t competitive in many more. During one particularly brutal stretch, they endured losses of 30 points or more in 11 out of 12 games.

Clearly, they’ve come a long way.

Tonight, St. Al will host a Class 1A South State satellite round game for the first time since 2007. Just getting to this point is a milestone for the program. Winning tonight would put them in the main draw of the South State tournament later this week and be a huge leap forward.

“It would be great,” St. Al coach Delvin Thompson said of winning tonight. “Last year we made it to the satellite round, and if we can get to South State then every year we’re improving. Once we get to South State, who knows? They might turn it up another level. They can play when they get ready to play.”

Unlike in the Division 7-1A tournament final on Saturday, when the Flashes were little more than a speed bump for juggernaut Hinds AHS — the War Dawgs beat St. Al 76-41 — they have plenty of reasonx to be optimistic about their chances in the satellite round.

They’ll face Dexter (14-16), a team that like St. Al (11-14) has a losing record. Dexter stumbled into the postseason on a three-game losing streak, but won its opening round game in the Division 8-1A tournament to clinch a spot in the satellite round, then again in the consolation game to finish third.

St. Al and Dexter have not played this season, but do have a few common opponents. The Bulldogs lost to Bogue Chitto in their season opener, and split a pair of regular-season meetings with Sacred Heart. St. Al beat Sacred Heart twice, including a 38-point rout in December, and won two out of three meetings with Bogue Chitto.

“It looks good,” Thompson said of the matchup.

Thompson added that his team has largely been a work in progress all season, and might be getting better as the season progresses. The core of the team arrived late to the basketball court because they were on the school’s football team that reached the Class 1A semifinals. The delay effectively made the first half of the season a prelude to the division schedule as the players adjusted their bodies.

The Flashes went just 6-6 in division play, but did manage to finish second in the regular season and earn a first-round bye. They then beat Bogue Chitto in the tournament semifinals before running into a Hinds AHS squad that wasn’t challenged within the league all season long and is expected to make a run at the Class 1A championship.

“That’s a big step,” Thompson said of finishing second. “They worked their butt off. We got our football players six games in and didn’t get them back into basketball shape for about another six games. That’s 11 or 12 games into the season before we got going good.”

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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