Missy Gators lose to Clinton

Published 12:25 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

RIDGELAND — All things considered, the Vicksburg Missy Gators could have done a lot worse after star forward Karry Callahan rolled her ankle early in the second half of Friday’s game against Clinton.

The Missy Gators hit a few 3-pointers, got contributions from some role players, and stayed in the game while Callahan limped around the court for brief spurts.

At the end, however, it simply wasn’t enough. Bad shots down the stretch and a couple of good minutes by Clinton were enough to power the Lady Arrows to a 56-54 victory at the Ridgeland Titan Shootout.

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Vicksburg (7-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped. It’ll play Murrah in the Ridgeland tournament today at 1 p.m., then head to the Northwest Rankin holiday tournament Dec. 28 and 29.

“They just outplayed us,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said. “They outrebounded us. We didn’t cover the wings and they got shots they shouldn’t have got off.”

Clinton (7-5), which was just 12-for-29 from the foul line in the game, hit 3 of 4 in the final minute to seal Friday’s win.

It outscored the Missy Gators 5-2 in the last 90 seconds, taking the lead on a basket by Sahmahlda Brown with about a minute to play before Khyla Crosby hit two free throws and Mychala Linsey one.

Crosby led Clinton with 15 points, while Linsey scored 13. Shania Wright had 12 points and eight rebounds.

“We’ve done that a few times this year, believe it or not,” Clinton coach Mike Coleman said of his team’s free throw shooting. “When it’s crunch time, in the games we’ve won, we’ve stepped up and hit them when we haven’t hit them all game. I like to say we do it when it matters, but if we do it the first and second quarters maybe we wouldn’t have to do it in the fourth quarter.”

Callahan had her usual laundry list of stats — 18 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals and four blocks — but only scored two points in the second half. She rolled her left ankle on a play under the basket in the opening seconds of the third quarter.

Although Callahan returned later on and said she expected to play Saturday, she was clearly favoring the injured leg throughout the second half.

In Callahan’s absence, Micha Williams and Pleasure King helped pick up the slack. Each player hit three 3-pointers and finished with nine points.

Keiyana Gaskin also scored all 13 of her points in the second half and finished with eight rebounds.

The Missy Gators, though, let it slip away after Gaskin split a pair of free throws with 1:37 remaining to give them a 52-51 lead. Gaskin later missed two free throws, and Vicksburg couldn’t get a good shot off in the final seconds.

Williams missed a 3-pointer, got her own rebound, then had another long, off-balance attempt blocked by Linsey. The ball bounced out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.

“I was in her face and she didn’t really know what to do with the ball,” Linsey said.

Friday’s game was the only time this season that Vicksburg and Clinton will play each other, and was something of a school reunion. Coleman was Vicksburg’s coach from 1999-2006 and preceded Hartzog in that job. His assistant, Alexus Stirgus, played for Hartzog at Vicksburg from 2006-10.

“It was just another game. Just like any other game, I just wanted to come out with a victory,” Stirgus said.

(B) Clinton 52, VHS 26

For the first four minutes Friday, the Vicksburg Gators were rolling.

Then things took a big turn south and never came back.

After opening up a seven-point lead in the early going, the Gators scored 16 points over the last 28 minutes of the game and were blown out by Clinton at the Ridgeland Titan Shootout.

The Gators (6-4) had a three-game winning streak snapped with one of their ugliest performances of the season.

They didn’t shoot a free throw until Joe Thomas got to the line with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter. After taking an early 10-3 lead —Kenneth Murphy scored eight of the 10 points — they didn’t score for the last four minutes of the first quarter and were outscored 49-16 the rest of the game.

Murphy finished with 12 points. No other Gator scored more than four.

“K.J. came out hot, hit a few shots early, and then he went cold and nobody else stepped up. We couldn’t find any points,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said.

Jawaun Taylor led Clinton (6-5) with 16 points. Galin Smith added 15, while Robert Davis hit three 3-pointers and scored 11. Amies Lewis finished with eight.

“I’ll take blowouts, squeakers, whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. The win’s always good. God gets every bit of the glory and the kids get the credit,” Clinton coach Clay Norton said. “We did a really good job of mixing up our zones. We didn’t want to go man because we figured they had good quickness, so we mixed up our zones every two or three trips down the floor. That helped 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 reporters in the paper's 140-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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