It’s Gators vs. Gators as Vicksburg faces Lake Cormorant in Class 5A tournament

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It’s officially playoff time for Vicksburg High School, as the Gators and Missy Gators will both host Lake Cormorant in first-round games in the Class 5A state basketball tournament on Tuesday.

It’s the first time either team has ever played Lake Cormorant, but everyone involved is looking to use a win as a launching pad for a Cinderella run in the state tournament. Of the four teams playing Tuesday, only Vicksburg’s girls at 14-12 have a winning record.

The Missy Gators, however, are only 2-4 in their last six games and have not won two in a row since late January. Lake Cormorant’s girls have a 4-20 record.

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“We’re struggling with our attitude. We’re trying to create a personality, create an attitude, to become winners again. What we’re trying to do now is trying to turn it back around,” Missy Gators coach Troy Stewart said. “Morale is fine, we just have to go out and put it on the floor, in front of a crowd.”

For his team to be successful, Stewart said a smoother offense and a better start will be key. The Missy Gators had 23 turnovers in a win over Germantown in the first round of the Division 4-5A tournament, and then fell behind by 24 points at halftime of what became a 66-47 loss in the championship game against Ridgeland.

“We have to eliminate some of the turnovers we’ve been making, we have to play a little smarter, and we can’t allow a team to jump on us like Ridgeland jumped on us at the beginning,” Stewart said. “We’re playing them even after that, we just have to come out to a faster start.”

On the boys’ side, Vicksburg (12-16) and Lake Cormorant (11-14) appear headed in different directions. Vicksburg has won seven of its last 10 games, while Lake Cormorant has only won twice in its last 11 games since Dec. 29.

“I think we match up well with them,” VHS boys coach Kelvin Carter said. “They have small guards, they have a couple of guys that are 6-5, 6-6. If we can just kind of minimize the 3-point line, and try to win the war in the paint, I think we can be successful.”

For Vicksburg to be successful, they’ll have to slow down senior Montez Allen, who’s averaging 14 points and seven rebounds per game.

“He’s a very good player,” Carter said. “He likes to play on the perimeter, he likes to get to the rack, he’s pretty good.”

Jaymeson Norfort’s stellar play in the post, especially defensively, gave Carter some confidence heading into the game. Norfort is only averaging 4.3 points per game, but he’s blocking 3.2 shots per game. In his last nine games, Norfort has 52 blocked shots — nearly six per game.

“We have Norfort playing in the middle, I’ll go to war with anybody,” Carter said.

Carter said that if the Gators can get a victory, it could be what sets them in motion for the rest of the playoffs. In order to do that, Carter felt that they have to have a big defensive showing. During their 10-game hot streak, they’ve only allowed 70 points or more twice — and lost both times.

“We had a good practice yesterday, we kind of locked in our defensive scheme, and we spoke about the 5-on-5 defense instead of playing three people on defense. We need all five getting engaged and getting involved,” Carter said.

6 p.m. – Lake Cormorant at VHS (Class 5A girls)
7 p.m. – Hernando at WC (Class 6A boys)
6 p.m. – Lake Cormorant at VHS (Class 5A boys)