Gators handle Callaway to reach Region 4-5A championship game

Published 11:48 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Not that long ago, beating Callaway was a monumental achievement for the Vicksburg Gators.

This season, at least, it’s been a routine chore to get through before the good stuff arrives.

Davian Williams scored 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter to get the Gators off to a fast start, and they rolled over Callaway 69-51 in the semifinals of the MHSAA Region 4-5A boys’ basketball tournament on Wednesday.

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It’s the third time this season that Vicksburg (27-2) has beaten Callaway. Before that, it had beaten them once in 12 years.

“The shoe was on the other foot years ago. We would play them two times and they would beat us in the regular season and the district championship. One year they beat us five times,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “It’s gratifying to be able to beat a team that’s pretty much dominated you for years, and to do it with a team you pretty much built.”

The win also sent Vicksburg on to the Region 4-5A tournament championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Provine (21-7). It’s the fifth time in six seasons that Vicksburg has reached the tournament finals, although it hasn’t won a region title since 2013.

Callaway (10-18) will play Forest Hill Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the consolation game. The tournament is being played at Vicksburg High.

“We’ve got to come with the same energy and effort and defense. We’ve got to be able to guard and take away their strengths,” Carter said of facing Provine for the third time this season.

The Gators have been the class of Region 4-5A all season long — Wednesday’s win was their 14th in a row — and showed no signs of easing off the throttle against their long-running nemesis Callaway.

Williams’ four 3-pointers in the first quarter staked the Gators to a 24-13 lead. They extended it to 16 points by halftime, and then cruised home in the second half. Callaway never got it back to single digits.

Malik Franklin finished with 15 points and five rebounds for Vicksburg, and Tyler Henderson scored 13 points. Jaylin Jackson and Jalen Banks had six each.

Trevon Taylor led Callaway with 13 points and Ashton Manuel scored nine. The Chargers lost for the eighth time in nine games.

“I always stress the first three to four minutes of each quarter. If you can come out and jump on them, they kind of fall back a little bit. It takes the air out of them,” Carter said. “I just know I feel so comfortable at home because we shoot so well.”


Region 4-5A Tournament
At Vicksburg High
Monday, Feb. 6
Jim Hill 50, Provine 35 (Girls)
Callaway 62, Jim Hill 61 (Boys)
Tuesday, Feb. 7
Vicksburg 74, Forest Hill 52 (Girls)
Provine 58, Forest Hill 41 (Boys)
Wednesday, Feb. 8
Callaway 70, Jim Hill 46 (Girls)
Vicksburg 69, Callaway 51 (Boys)
Thursday, Feb. 9
Consolation games
6 p.m. – Forest Hill vs. Jim Hill (Girls)
7:30 p.m. – Callaway vs. Forest Hill (Boys)
Friday, Feb. 10
Championship games
6 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Callaway (Girls)
7:30 p.m. – Vicksburg vs. Provine (Boys)

Tickets for all games are available through

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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