Vicksburg buries 11 3-pointers, uses two big runs to defeat Holmes

Published 8:12 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

JACKSON — In surveying their potential opponents at the Pepsi/JPS Holiday Tournament, the Vicksburg Gators came to the realization that this could be more than just a way to pass the time between Christmas and New Year’s.

“I told the guys coming in this is our pre-Coliseum,” VHS coach Kelvin Carter said. “This run here is pretty much the same run we’re going to face come February. If we can beat Provine and get to Callaway, we can see how we match up against them.”

The Gators passed the first test on that journey with flying colors and showed that the message got through.

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The Gators hit eight 3-pointers in the second half and used two big runs to pull away from Holmes County Central for an impressive 80-59 victory in the first round on Wednesday.

Ty’Ron Moore hit five of the 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 17 points for Vicksburg (8-4), which won its third consecutive game after losing the previous three. Devan Kiner added 15 points, and Jamison Norfort had six points and five blocked shots.

Vicksburg hit 11 3-pointers in the game. It advanced into the winners’ bracket and will play Provine or Crystal Springs on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at Lanier High School.

“It was a real good win because we’re about to head into district,” Kiner said. “These kinds of games are going to prep us for the district games. We’re going to potentially play Callaway, so if we get a chance to get a look at them before district starts that’ll be real good.”

Holmes County (9-4) was a formidable opponent, among the best in Class 5A, and the Gators went toe-to-toe before finally pulling away. After an entertaining and fast-paced first half ended in a 34-all tie, the teams muddled through the first part of the third quarter.

A 3-pointer by Jermiyah Brown gave Vicksburg a 42-39 lead with a little over three minutes to go and marked the start of the Gators’ surge. They outscored Holmes County 17-5 over the last 3:15, capped off by a pair of 3-pointers from Kiner and Gregory Jenkins in the last 30 seconds, to take a 56-44 lead.

Holmes cut the deficit in half with an effective press early in the fourth quarter, but a thunderous snowbird dunk by Norfort and a 3-pointer by Moore put VHS back in control. The Gators went on an 18-4 run before Carter cleared the bench with 1:24 remaining and a 74-54 lead.

“They were in rhythm and in sync and pushing the ball. They had all their guys in the backcourt. If we got the ball over halfcourt, we’re in good shape,” Carter said.

The key to the surge was Vicksburg’s defense. It blocked eight Holmes shots in the game and limited the Jaguars to one shot on most possessions in the second half.

James Bankhead scored 11 points and Matthew Williams scored nine, but they only had one point between them in the second half. The Jaguars hit five 3-pointers in the first half and only one in the second.

Jaylen Washington led Holmes with 15 points.

“We tried to clog the lane up a little bit more. Give those guards a cushion so they couldn’t just go by us,” Carter said. “Cushion and contain is what we talked about at halftime, because they really weren’t dropping the ball off. They were getting in there, but they weren’t looking to pass it. We just tried to pack the lane.”

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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