Missy Gators take region loss against Callaway

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

After losing eight seniors to graduation, Vicksburg High girls’ basketball coach Troy Stewart knew this would be a rebuilding season. He feels like the Missy Gators are making plenty of progress, but the results are showing there’s still room to grow.

Jahanna Wilson scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the second half Tuesday as Callaway defeated Vicksburg 61-43.

The Missy Gators’ record fell to 4-13 overall, and 1-1 in MHSAA Region 2-6A. Still, Stewart said, a roster with 11 sophomores has competed well against a challenging schedule and is showing plenty of potential as the second half of the season gets under way.

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Seven of Vicksburg’s losses have been by seven points or less.

“The public is seeing that we’re getting beat. I’m seeing that we’re getting better each and every single game,” Stewart said. “I thought we played pretty well. The turnovers are hurting us right now. We did a good job on the free throw line tonight until the fourth. Played solid defense. Rebounded well. I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’re making steps forward every game. That’s a team that two weeks ago probably would’ve beat us by 40. They beat us by 18 with a push at the end. So I think we did all right.”

Callaway (12-4, 2-0 Region 2-6A) was ahead most of the game, but didn’t fully pull away until the fourth quarter. After a 3-pointer by Wilson and a conventional three-point play by Jernae Ringgold put the Lady Chargers ahead 39-24 late in the third quarter, the Missy Gators pulled back to within 10 by the end of the period.

Another 3-pointer by Wilson with five minutes left in the fourth quarter put Callaway in front 51-37, however, and the margin never got back into single digits.

Ringgold finished with 10 points for Callaway — eight in the second half — while Anissa Branson added 12 and Shelbie Walker scored eight. Callaway was 9-for-12 from the free throw line in the second half.

“That last quarter is where it got away on the free throw line and they had a couple of sneak outs. They had a push in the third with two or three 3-pointers and that made the gap wider,” Stewart said.

The game came to an early end following a fight between the teams with 1:09 remaining. Vicksburg’s Kierra James, and Callaway’s Ringgold and Satiya Johnson, were ejected. Several fans were also ejected from the gym.

Play continued after the fracas, but officials called it with 37 seconds to go because an angry Callaway fan was verbally threatening Stewart. The boys’ game that followed was played without incident.

Stewart declined to comment on the fight, but said potentially losing his leading scorer James for a game or two because of the ejection could hurt. Ejections for fighting typically carry a suspension from the MHSAA, but the final penalty will be determined by the association after it reviews the incident.

James scored 11 points on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a blow if she does have to sit. If they watch the film they’ll see that she was not the initiator. She just got ejected because she was in the fight,” Stewart said.

Stewart praised several players, such as point guard Rodrianna Hall, Jada Erwin and Saudia Stewart, for their performance against Callaway.

Hall finished with a team-high 12 points, Erwin scored six and Stewart came off the bench to provide some solid defense and hustle plays.

Similar contributions, Stewart said, will be needed heading into the heart of the Region 2-6A schedule. The Missy Gators’ last eight games are all within the league, with a home game against Columbus on Friday and a difficult road trip to Neshoba Central on Jan. 9 up next.

“We have 10 or 11 sophomores. We’re in a growing process after losing the players we lost last year,” Stewart said. “It’s a meticulous process, but it’s a process the same. We’re doing a good job trying to make this thing one step better every time.”

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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