Missy Gators cruise past Jim Hill

Published 8:11 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

JACKSON — A recent slump hasn’t been a whole lot of fun for the Vicksburg Missy Gators. On Wednesday, they got their smiles back.

Destini Sims scored 12 points, Jayla Sims added 11, and 12 of the 14 players on the roster scored at least one point as the Missy Gators routed Jim Hill 58-34 in the first round of the Pepsi/JPS Holiday Tournament in Jackson.

Vicksburg (10-4) won for just the second time in six games and advanced to play either Forest Hill or Madison Prep (La.) in the winners’ bracket Thursday at 1 p.m. at Forest Hill.

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“It feels good. I’m glad we came out and beat them. We lost all the fun in it, and now it’s gaining it back,” Jayla Sims said. “Now that we’ve got it back we’re going to start playing harder and winning.”

The Missy Gators had lost two in a row coming in, and were only 2-4 in December prior to Wednesday’s game. Coach Troy Stewart said one of the goals for this week was to regain the momentum that had carried the team to an 8-0 start before the Region 4-5A opener against Callaway on Jan. 8.

“We’re trying to use it as a prelude to district play and the tournament,” Stewart said. “The problem is we lost Saturday and messed up my whole mind frame. We’re going to take this tournament itself and see where we match up with the best teams in Mississippi.”

Jim Hill (3-8) might not be among the best, but the Missy Gators once again showed they’re capable of being in that category.

Jayla Sims scored five straight points midway through the second quarter — she had nine total in the period — to give Vicksburg a 24-9 lead and firm control of the game. The margin grew to 19 points at halftime and never got below 15 in the second half.

“I think the coaches and myself have been emphasizing, ‘Start faster.’ Each game we did lose had a horrible first half and we played great in the second half,” Stewart said. “I’m thinking it’s starting to click. The girls are starting to see what we’re trying to get done. If you start faster, the game will be easier all the way through.”

Sha’Kora Knight finished with 10 points and Kemari Smith had seven in a balanced effort. Seven players scored in the fourth quarter alone as Stewart was able to clear the bench and give everyone a bit of playing time.

“I was extremely happy to see that, because my rotation has changed because I’m missing three ladies that I normally play a lot,” Stewart said. “The rotation has changed dramatically, so I’m happy to see the girls that got off the bench and are playing more now give effort and hustle throughout the game.”

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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