Gators move ahead, ready to host the Red Carpet Classic

Published 12:54 am Friday, January 20, 2017

It’s been a strange, stressful couple of weeks for Vicksburg High’s boys’ basketball program.

It’s been 10 days since head coach Dellie C. Robinson was hospitalized after suffering an aneurysm in his heart during a game at Madison Central. Ten days of practices, games, and coming to grips with the realization that the man who has been on the bench for 25 years might never come back to that post.

“It’s been weird every game. It really has. When we come in, a lot of coaches don’t know about him and ask, ‘Where’s Coach?’ So everybody is shocked. You’ve been seeing him for so long, and not to see him is big,” said Kelvin Carter, the longtime Vicksburg assistant who is now the interim head coach. “He’s very much a mentor to me. He’s a pastor, he’s like a father figure. We’re real friends. We go fishing and everything. It even hurts me being at practice, because you’re looking for him to come through that door with his mind set. You’re not going to see that again.”

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Robinson’s influence will be felt on the program for a long time, and time will tell what direction it heads in the future. For now, however, the Gators are still trying to compete for a division and state championship and the schedule rolls on without mercy.

The next challenge is a back-to-back set of games, Friday night at Lanier and then Saturday at home against Germantown in the last game of the Red Carpet Basketball Classic.

The Germantown game will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be the last of six in the annual daylong Red Carpet marathon. Porters Chapel and Tallulah Academy tip things off in a girls-boys doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Warren Central’s girls team plays Forest Hill at 2 p.m., and WC’s boys face Jim Hill at 3:30. The VHS girls play Germantown at 5 before the Gators wrap things up.

Vicksburg’s game will be its third without Robinson, but one of the few Red Carpet Classics where it has been without him. Carter said the Gators have done their best to focus on basketball while keeping Robinson in their hearts.

That’s not an easy task considering most of them look at Robinson as a friend and mentor as well as a coach. Carter — who has been on the Gators’ staff for 13 of Robinson’s 25 seasons as head coach — said it’s what the big guy would want.

“We give it a little 1-2-3 for Coach Robinson when we get in the huddle, and they’ve been doing well,” Carter said. “It’s been rough because you’re constantly telling the guys to pray for him and keep him in your prayers. But at the same time, he wouldn’t want us to do anything else but go out there and play.”

In focusing on the X’s and O’s, the Gators could use a good showing against Germantown (4-14).
Vicksburg (10-6) won 67-32 when the teams played at Germantown in early December, but it has lost two of its three games since New Year’s.

“It’s a good game to spark us back up and keep this thing rolling,” said VHS senior forward Kirk Parker. “It takes some of the pressure off and lets us play without it being so personal.”

Saturday, at Vicksburg High
Admission: $12, good for all games
11 a.m. – Porters Chapel vs. Tallulah Academy
2 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Forest Hill
5 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Germantown
12:30 p.m. – Porters Chapel vs. Tallulah Academy
3:30 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Jim Hill
6:30 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Germantown

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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