Vicksburg junior high chomps down on its competition

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Warren Central High just wrapped up the Red Carpet Basketball Classic Saturday, but on the other side of the city lays another tournament for future Vikings and Vicksburg High Gators.

Vicksburg Junior High is hosting the Little Six tournament this week. The tournament will see 16 eight-grade boys’ and girls’ teams in a single-elimination style format.

“This is our championship tournament, which we have eight boys teams and eight girls teams,” said Julius Williams, coach of the Vicksburg Junior High Gators. “We’re placed by seeds and it’s a four day tournament. It’s a great event and it gives the kids great competition.”

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Vicksburg beat Pearl 56-22 in its opening round of the tournament. Christopher Henderson had 15 points and Nicholaus Council had 15. On Wednesday it’ll move on the face the winner of the Warren Central, Clinton game that plays today.

During a game, Williams wants his team to know that playing basketball is more than just the final score.

“I’m trying to teach the kids, ‘you don’t look at the scoreboard. You play hard because you never know, it could be our last game,”’ Williams said. Another thing about it you always want to protect your house. You don’t want another school celebrating a championship on your floor and you’re sitting in the stands.”

Throughout the tournament, Williams said he expects to see some of the best eight-grade basketball in the state. Vicksburg has played every team in the tournament twice and opponents have a feel on its style of play.

Williams preaches ball movement and runs a motion offense. He also tries to get every player the ball to score.

“Any time you’re dealing with young kids, you don’t know who’s going to show up and who’s not going to show up,” Williams said. “We’re going to have to show up every game.

“I have a great group of guys. I’m blessed to be around them. We’ve grown together and I can see a high school championship out of this team.”

Williams also preaches the importance of leadership and getting an education.

“We’ve grown over the year with that and that’s one thing I want to continue preaching to the kids. Getting an education, you cannot beat that. Basketball comes and goes but what you learn, you’ll have for a lifetime,” Williams said.

The junior high Gators were 14-0 in the regular season with a 15-1 overall record.

Their lone loss came against Warren Central Junior High last week at the Warren Central Invitational. The junior high Vikings edged out a 35-34 win.

“Warren Central has one of the better teams in the Little Six also,” Williams said. “Basketball is bright for Vicksburg. It came down to the last second shot and we missed. I can’t take nothing away from those guys. They have a great group of guys over there and great size.”

At this level, players are still learning how to play basketball and the importance of sharing the ball.

However, Williams said this current roster of junior high Gators is the only team to go undefeated in the regular season adding on to the schools recent success in the conference.

“The record we put up this year is one of the greatest records that Vicksburg has put up,” Williams said. “We have about 10 or 11 Little Six championships and we’re the first team to go undefeated in the regular season that I know of. It’s all about keeping the kids motivated and staying humble.”