Gators finish undefeated run through Region 4-5A

Published 9:14 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

The last time Vicksburg High’s boys’ basketball team went undefeated through its league schedule, the season ended with a chance at a gold ball.

The Gators are hoping history repeats itself.

Davian Williams scored 15 points, and Malik Franklin and Markel Derby had 12 apiece as Vicksburg beat Jim Hill 73-54 on Friday.

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The Gators improved their overall record to 25-2 and completed an 8-0 regular season in MHSAA Region 4-5A. It’s the first time they’ve been undefeated in their league since the 2010-11 season, when they reached the Class 6A championship game.

“It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “I think we’ve been in the toughest district since I’ve been coaching. This year we got the Callaway bug off our back, the Forest Hill bug off our back, and right now we appear to be a frontrunner. We’ve still got a long way to go, though. Our goal is to get to that ‘ship.”

Vicksburg has one more regular-season game left, Feb. 3 at Clinton, and then starts the postseason by hosting the Region 4-5A tournament the following week. The tournament starts Feb. 6, and the Gators’ first game will be Feb. 8.

Vicksburg is the No. 1 seed for the tournament, but Nos. 2-5 won’t be set until the other teams in the region — Jim Hill, Forest Hill, Callaway and Provine — finish their league schedules next week.

While the rest of the bracket is still murky, the Gators have certainly shown they’re the team to beat. Friday’s win was their 12th in a row, and three of the last four have been by double digits.

Carter’s only quibble, it seems, was that the Gators didn’t win by more than the 19-point final margin. A 3-pointer by freshman Mikey Johnson at the buzzer gave them a 40-22 lead at halftime, and it stayed between 10 and 20 points for the entire second half.

“We try to teach these guys that you’ve got to kill an ant with a sledgehammer, and I think sometimes they let guys hang around. We’re trying to break that. It’s something we’ve been trying to work on the last couple of games,” Carter said.

The lack of style points were a minor gripe, though. The Gators got contributions across the roster as they built some depth for the postseason and gave everyone some valuable playing time.

Ten players scored, and six of those had at least eight points. In addition to the three in double figures, Tyler Henderson finished with nine points, Johnson had eight and Jaylin Jackson scored seven.

Alex Reed had a game-high 28 points for Jim Hill (9-11).

“I don’t want to take our foot off the gas,” Carter said. That’s what we talked about in the locker room. Keep your foot on the gas and let’s get to the Coliseum. That is the ultimate goal.”

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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