Callaway ends Gators’ season
Published 12:45 am Saturday, March 15, 2014
JACKSON — The Vicksburg Gators’ dream season had a nightmarish ending Friday night.
Callaway, the defending state champion, added another gold basketball to its trophy case by beating the Gators 49-33 in the MHSAA Class 5A boys championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum. It was the fifth time this season that Vicksburg lost to its division rival, with the last three coming in the postseason.
Callaway won its third consecutive Class 5A championship, and fifth state title in six seasons. It finished the season with a 32-1 record.
The Gators hit just one of their first 10 shots from the field and were 8-for-43 (18.6 percent) for the game. Callaway’s Malik Newman — one of the top-rated high school juniors in the country — finished with 25 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Chargers to yet another state title.
“I tip my cap to Callaway. They’re a great basketball team,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said.
Vicksburg finished the season with a 19-9 record and reached the state finals for the second time in four seasons, and the state tournament for the fourth time since 2008. It was seeking its first state championship since 2003.
The Gators won eight of their last nine games against teams that weren’t Callaway, but had no answer for the Chargers. After losing two close games to Callaway in the regular season, the Gators lost by 25, 19 and 16 points in three playoff meetings.
The first- and second-place team in both the division and North and South state tournaments advances to the next round. Vicksburg was the runner-up to Callaway at both the Division 4-5A and North State tournament.
While getting so close to a state title and losing was disappointing, the Gators were happy with the season as a whole.
“The last two years, you see how hard it is to get here. So it is a relief getting here, but what we wanted we didn’t get,” said VHS senior guard De’Angelo Richardson, who scored a team-high 15 points. “I guess we’re satisfied for now.”