Missy Gators can’t get past Northwest Rankin

Published 8:50 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

FLOWOOD — In total, Northwest Rankin really only outplayed the Vicksburg Missy Gators for about four minutes Tuesday night — just long enough to get the lead and keep it.

Northwest Rankin used a first-quarter run to take the lead for good, and then held off Vicksburg with two smaller runs in the second half to preserve a 50-39 victory.

Maya Jones led Northwest Rankin (9-1) with 15 points, Reese Taylor had 12, and Deja Byrd scored seven of her nine points in the second half.

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Dajia Reed led Vicksburg (2-6) with 11 points. Pleasure King scored six, and Maya Clay had seven rebounds.

“We missed 10 free throws. We make free throws, it’d keep the score closer,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said. Her team was 15-for-37 from the field, but only 7-of-17 from the foul line.

“Every game we’ve just got to get better,” Hartzog added. “We got better on defense. We just need to make shots. We got shots, they’re just not falling for us right now. But it’s going to come in time. As long as they don’t give up and keep working hard, it’ll be all right. We need to be on the same page in February. That’s what we’re working toward.”

The Missy Gators led early, but Northwest Rankin went on an 11-0 run midway through the first quarter to go in front 15-6 and never trailed again. The Lady Cougars got a 3-pointer by Taylor and a basket by Jones early in the second half to push the margin to double digits, and Byrd scored to cap a 6-1 run late in the fourth quarter that sealed it.

Other than those brief flurries, it was a mostly even game. After falling behind by 16 points on a steal and layup by Taylor with 1:50 left in the third quarter, the Missy Gators outscored Northwest Rankin 10-8 over the last 10 minutes of the game.

Vicksburg even got as close as six points, at 42-36, before the last 6-1 run by Northwest put the game out of reach.

“We missed several shots. Easy shots. Turnovers. Just made bad decisions. They’ve got to learn to make better decisions,” Hartzog said. “I’d rather it happen now than later on.”

The loss was Vicksburg’s fifth in a row, and comes in the middle of an especially tough stretch. It was the first of 10 consecutive road games — the Missy Gators won’t play at home again until Jan. 21 — and one of four in five games against teams with winning records.

The Missy Gators will play Clinton (8-3), Madison Central (1-9) and West Point (5-2) at Ridgeland’s Titan Shootout this weekend.

Considering that, and especially considering the Missy Gators were blown out by 39 points in their last outing against Warren Central, Hartzog was happy with a lot of the things she saw Tuesday even if the end result was a loss.

“We didn’t give up. I watched the game against Warren Central and just got sick to my stomach,” Hartzog said. “So they didn’t give up and learned some new stuff. We’re going to keep a positive attitude and work every day. You can’t help but get better if you work every day. If we can play against them like that, we ought to be able to play against anybody else.”

(B) Vicksburg 55, Northwest Rankin 53

Ke’Darrion Parson scored 13 points, including a pair of free throws with nine-tenths of a second left in overtime that gave Vicksburg (7-2) a win over Northwest Rankin (5-6).

Kirk Parker also scored 13 points for the Gators, while Raheam Moore and Dentarius Richardson scored eight each. Moore hit two free throws at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime.

Devonte Moore led Northwest Rankin with 13 points. Willie Logan scored 11 points, and Leo Hartfield and Jackson Ainsworth had nine each.

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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