Vicksburg crushes Lake Cormorant, advances to second round of Class 6A tournament

Published 9:40 pm Saturday, February 17, 2024

The Vicksburg Gators flew right over the Lake and are headed to the Valley.

Kameryn Bailey had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, four other players scored in double figures, and Vicksburg led from start to finish in routing Lake Cormorant 82-47 Saturday in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A boys basketball state tournament.

“That was definitely what I was looking for,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “I just wanted to see that team cohesiveness, trying to get them to understand the importance of working inside-out. Great team effort.”

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Vicksburg (22-6) advanced to the second round, which will be played at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena. The Gators will face Olive Branch (24-3) on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Olive Branch defeated Columbus 83-37 in another first-round game on Saturday.

Vicksburg has not been past the second round of the state tournament since 2014. The VHS-Olive Branch winner will advance to the Class 6A semifinals in the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson on Feb. 28.

“We’ve got to get over that hurdle. It’s definitely been a thorn in our side,” Carter said. “We’ve had match-up nightmares with New Hope over the years, and had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. Hopefully we can get over that hump on Thursday.”

Vicksburg has had the look of a championship contender all season and did nothing to change that image against Lake Cormorant (17-9) in the match-up of Gators. Lake Cormorant, like Vicksburg, is nicknamed the Gators.

The ones from the River City started the game on an 11-0 run over the first three minutes and only briefly let their lead get into single digits after that.

Lake Cormorant went scoreless for the first four minutes of the second quarter, which allowed Vicksburg to open a 30-10 lead. It was 39-18 at halftime and Lake Cormorant did not get closer than 19 points in the second half.

In addition to Bailey’s double-double, Tyler Henderson led Vicksburg with 14 points, Davian Williams had 10 and DeCorey Knight Jr. scored nine. Kealon Bass and Michael Johnson scored 12 each. Bass made four 3-pointers.
Demario Jones led Lake Cormorant with 15 points.

“If you can get six points out of this one, six points out of that one, you know you’re going to get 10 or 15 out of Davian and Kam, and you’re on your way,” Carter said. “The reserves played well. The young people played well. To have seven or eight guys is a plus.”

With the game well in hand in the fourth quarter, both coaches cleared their benches with about three minutes to go and it led to a bizarre finish.

The third-string players on both rosters, who rarely see playing time in the postseason, quickly formed an unspoken understanding to back off on defense and let each other bomb away from 3-point range. Players on each team took turns taking uncontested shots from 30 to 35 feet as their teammates and fans howled in delight.

Each team got about a half-dozen of those attempts as the clock ran down toward zero. None of them dropped in, so in the final seconds Vicksburg freshman Brycen Jones put an exclamation point on the fun with a much easier shot. He slowly dribbled through the non-existent defense in the lane and threw down a dunk that brought roars of approval.

“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in basketball. They were shooting 40-footers from half court,” Carter said with a laugh. “Maybe (Lake Cormorant coach Kendrick Davis) said the game is over, might as well let them have a little fun. But I have never seen that in my life. I guess it was good. It turned into an all-star game in the last minute of the game.”

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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