Gators take 38 trips to foul line in win

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vicksburg’s Kirk Parker (23) shoots a free throw during Monday’s Class 5A semifinal against Pascagoula. Parker hit the shot and finished the game with four points and three rebounds. Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post

Vicksburg’s Kirk Parker (23) shoots a free throw during Monday’s Class 5A semifinal against Pascagoula. Parker hit the shot and finished the game with four points and three rebounds. Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post

JACKSON — The Vicksburg Gators carved a path to the Class 5A championship game 15 feet at a time.

The Gators went an astonishing 32-for-38 from the free throw line in Monday’s 82-67 semifinal win over Pascagoula. The sharp shooting helped them get the lead early, kept them in front as Pascagoula tried to mount a comeback in the second half, and was clearly the difference in a game that seemed much more one-sided than the final score.

“For us, sometimes we make them and sometimes we don’t. Tonight, we certainly knew they were going to foul and we needed to make free throws. The kids accepted the challenge and I thought (Edward Davis) did a super job at the free throw line to keep them at bay when they were trying to come back,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said.

Davis went 10-for-12 at the foul line and finished with 14 points. De’Angelo Richardson was 13-for-14, accounting for nearly half of his team-high 28 points. While those two guards provided the bulk of the free throws, however, it was a total team effort. All five starters made at least two foul shots.

Vicksburg shot nearly as many free throws (38) as field goals (43).

After De’Vonta Brisco missed a chance at a three-point play in the first quarter, the Gators didn’t miss again until Kris Walker split a pair late in the third quarter. They hit 17 of their first 18 attempts, then 15 of 19 in the fourth quarter as Pascagoula tried to extend the game by fouling repeatedly.

“It was one of those games. The kids couldn’t miss,” Robinson said.

Pascagoula got as close as 11 points at one point in the third quarter, but never got its deficit back to single digits after the Gators went on a 12-0 run to take a 39-25 lead into halftime. The free throws complemented Vicksburg’s solid shooting from the field — it was 23-for-43 (53.5 percent) for the game — and made sure it was never seriously threatened coming down the stretch.

“That was huge for us, because they were pressing us and they were fouling us. If we made our free throws, we’d keep them at bay and wouldn’t let the game get close,” Robinson said. “Certainly, I thought the kids stepped up and made free throws tonight, and that was a plus for us.”

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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