Parson powers Vicksburg to win over Clinton

Published 10:19 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

RIDGELAND — The Vicksburg Gators are finding ways to win close games, and might have found a new go-to guy in crunchtime while doing it.

Ke’Darrion Parson scored eight straight points during a game-deciding run, and the Gators rallied from a 10-point deficit by holding Clinton to one field goal in the fourth quarter as they won 49-44 Friday at the Titan Shootout at Ridgeland High School.

It was the third straight game Vicksburg (7-3) has played that was decided by five points or less, and the second in a row where Parson hit the biggest shots. He hit two game-winning free throws with .9 seconds left in overtime Tuesday to beat Northwest Rankin, and then on Friday made two 3-pointers and a layup late in the fourth quarter to give the Gators the lead for good.

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Parson finished with 15 points, all in the second half.

“I’m starting to get my confidence now,” Parson said. “At the beginning I felt like I didn’t have any type of success, but I’m starting to get it now.”

Kirk Parker added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Gators. Raheam Moore scored 11 points and Joe Thomas had eight.

Robert Davis led Clinton (8-4) with a game-high 17 points and Harold McWade scored 10. The Arrows pulled ahead 28-26 at halftime after trailing by nine points in the first quarter and stretched the lead to 10 late in the third. Vicksburg made only two field goals in the last five minutes of the third quarter and trailed 41-33 entering the final period.

Just when Clinton looked like it had a firm grip on the game, however, the Gators pried their fingers off the handle. They prevented Clinton from getting a shot off for nearly two minutes at the start of the fourth quarter and converted two turnovers into points to cut the deficit in half with 5 ½ minutes to go.

Two free throws by Parker set Parson up to be the hero. The junior guard drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Vicksburg its first lead since the first quarter, 42-41, with 3:25 remaining. He hit another one 40 seconds later, and then added a layup off a long outlet pass against Clinton’s press to make it 47-42 with 30 seconds to go.

“He hit two big 3s for us and got that lead for us, and we play pretty good defense anyway. Our defense stepped up and we stole a victory,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said.

Clinton didn’t score in the fourth quarter until Davis split a pair of free throws with 1:22 remaining. Its only field goal was made by McWade with 20.6 seconds left, and cut it to 47-44.

The Gators broke the press again on the inbounds pass, however, and Thomas tipped in a miss by Parker to seal the win. In all, Vicksburg outscored Clinton 16-3 in the fourth quarter after being outscored in each of the first three periods.

The Arrows were without leading scorer Galin Smith. The 6-foot-9 center and Alabama commit rolled his ankle earlier this week against Pearl and was held out to rest it. Clinton coach Clay Norton said Smith’s absence made a difference Friday, but credited Vicksburg’s defense in the fourth quarter for making a bigger difference.

“We just didn’t score,” Norton said. “We had opportunities. We had success right there at the end of the third quarter with spreading the floor. We did the same thing at the start of the fourth and didn’t score off of it. We had an opportunity on a couple of isolations that we thought were good and didn’t score there either. We had good looks. We had shots. We just didn’t score in the fourth quarter.”

(G) Clinton 67, Vicksburg 46

Mychala Linzy scored a game-high 20 points, Sahmahlah Brown added 19, and Clinton (10-3) pulled away from Vicksburg (2-7) after a shaky first quarter.

Clinton led by just five points after one period, but outscored the Missy Gators 23-12 in the second to take control. The Lady Arrows led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

“We were pressing, but then Vicksburg started beating the press and we just had to get out of it. That’s why we got back in our zone. That’s our game plan. We try to press and get an early lead on people, but once they start breaking it and shooting layups we get on out of it,” Clinton coach Mike Coleman said. “We got out of the press and seemed to do a little bit better. They went on a run where they got four or five straight layups when we were pressing,”

Vicksburg shot 50 percent from the field (19-for-38) and blocked 10 shots, but committed 25 turnovers. Most of the turnovers happened while the Missy Gators were running their half-court offense, which served to limit their shot opportunities.

The 38 field goal attempts were their fewest this season. They had been averaging 48 attempts per game.
Pleasure King led the Missy Gators with 10 points and seven rebounds. Dajia Reed scored nine points — on three 3-pointers in the second half — and Maya Clay had eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

The Missy Gators will try to snap a six-game losing streak when they face Madison Central at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ridgeland High School.

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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