Gators beat Warren Central to earn No. 1 seed for Region 2-6A tournament

Published 1:53 am Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Vicksburg Gators checked several achievements and milestones off their list Friday — all except the one they really want. That will require a little more work.

Davian Williams drained four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points, Tyler Henderson scored 17, and Vicksburg clinched its second consecutive regular-season boys’ basketball regular-season region championship by beating Warren Central 70-60 on Friday.

“That’s something to have,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “But I’m not trying to be satisfied with that. I’m trying to get past the second round (of the state tournament).”

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The Gators also clinched their second 20-win season in a row — something the program hadn’t accomplished since doing it four consecutive times from 2007-11. Carter seemed as proud of that feat as he was of being the champion of one of Mississippi’s toughest boys’ basketball leagues.

“It’s hard to win — and to win 20 games? It’s hard,” Carter said. “I’m blessed. I’m appreciating the team and we’re going to keep grinding.”

Friday’s victory got the Gators (20-5, 8-2 MHSAA Region 2-6A) to at least the first round of the state tournament. The top four finishers in the six-team region tournament advance to state, and as the No. 1 seed Vicksburg will receive a bye into the semifinals.

Warren Central (12-15, 3-7), meanwhile, will be either the No. 5 or 6 seed for the region tournament and will have to win a first-round elimination game.

The schedule and final seedings were to be finalized during a coaches’ meeting Saturday morning.

Warren Central is heading into the postseason on a four-game losing streak. While coach Keith Williams was obviously disappointed with that, he wasn’t about to dismiss his team’s chances of surviving and advancing when they get back on the court.

Except for Vicksburg, which it lost two competitive games to, Warren Central beat every team in the region once. Williams was confident that if his team plays well it can do so again.

“From one to six, any team can beat (the others) on any night,” Williams said. “This is a tough district — the toughest district I’ve been in in a long time. But it’s 0-0 now. You win, you go on. You lose, you go home. It’s just that simple. There’s no other way to put it.”

Warren Central lost by four points to Vicksburg in December, and nearly pulled off a huge comeback in Friday’s rematch.

Vicksburg used a 14-3 run at the end of the first half to open a 38-24 lead and kept it in double digits until midway through the fourth quarter. That was when the Vikings got hot and made a run of their own to pull to within five points, at 62-57, with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

Another Vicksburg run put the game away, though. Michael Johnson scored five points during an 8-1 spurt that pushed the Gators’ lead back to double digits with 36 seconds left. WC’s Larry Reynolds added a layup, but it was too little too late.

Reynolds finished with 10 points for the Vikings, while Garrett Orgas led the team with 18. Roosevelt Harris had 15, and leading scorer Gaylon Turner was held to only 12.

“We’re not there, but we’re right there,” Williams said.

Balanced scoring has become one of Vicksburg’s calling cards this season and played a big role in Friday’s victory as well.
Johnson finished with 14 points to join Davian Williams and Henderson in double figures. Jaylin Jackson added seven points and Kealon Bass had five. All had brief stretches where they ignited runs that helped the Gators stay in front from start to finish.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bass and Davian Williams in the opening minute of the game put the Gators ahead 6-0 and they never trailed.

“It helps us a whole lot,” Carter said of the balance. “When you take (Davian Williams) away for a little while, we still can get a bucket out of (Jackson), a bucket out of (Bass). Tyler Henderson has really been that third scorer we’ve needed the last five games. When he has energy like that he really adds a whole new dimension to Vicksburg basketball.”

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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