2024 All-County Basketball: Carter’s consistency keeps Gators among Mississippi’s elite

Published 3:50 am Sunday, March 24, 2024

When he followed the legendary Dellie C. Robinson as Vicksburg High’s boys’ basketball coach, Kelvin Carter admits he didn’t change a whole lot about the way the program operates.

Why mess with a winning formula?

“I used to tell people all the time I would never try to fill those shoes. I’m just trying to find a way to create my own,” Carter said. “But when you have a blueprint to build a house it’s probably not that hard to build a house. It’s a system that’s been rolling.”

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Seven seasons after taking the wheel at VHS, Carter has started to put his own stamp on the program while keeping Vicksburg in the conversation as one of Mississippi’s top high school teams.

Carter led the Gators to their second consecutive 20-win season against one of the most difficult schedules in MHSAA Class 6A. They won the Region 2-6A region title and a playoff game for the fifth year in a row.
Now Carter is adding another line on a growing resumé as the 2024 Vicksburg Post basketball Coach of the Year for Warren County. It’s the second year in a row he has won it.

“I’m super duper proud because we’ve put a lot of work in,” Carter said. “We play anywhere from 25 to 30 games in the summertime. Development-wise, we’re moving in the right direction. I think a lot of people would trade places with us in a heartbeat.”

Carter played for Robinson in high school and was his assistant coach for nearly a decade. Robinson retired following the 2017 season and Carter was hired as his successor that spring.
Since then, Carter has a 127-73 record — an average of 18 wins per season — and is 50-11 over the past two seasons.

The Gators have lost in the second round of the playoffs each of the past five years. Carter was obviously disappointed by that, but also philosophical.

“I know a lot of coaches that have coached 30 or 40 years and never even made it out of district,” Carter said. “I had a good group of guys, a good coaching staff that coached these guys up. We just run into teams that sometimes might be a little bit better.”

A lot of the teams the Gators ran into this season weren’t necessarily better, but were very, very good. Thirteen of their 29 games were against opponents that reached the semifinals or better in their respective classifications.

All seven of the Gators’ losses were against those teams, including three to Region 2-6A rival Ridgeland and another to Olive Branch in the playoffs. Olive Branch beat Ridgeland in the Class 6A championship game.

Among the scalps the Gators collected were state semifinalists Brandon (Class 7A), Choctaw Central (4A) and Port Gibson (3A), and MAIS Class 5A champion Clinton Christian.

Vicksburg compiled a 22-7 record while running that gauntlet, after finishing 28-4 in the 2022-23 season. Carter said the secret to the team’s success the past two years was the chemistry they built in the offseason.

“I think they like each other. We spend a lot of time in the summer in the swimming pool or in the bowling alley and things like that, trying to build chemistry on and off the floor,” Carter said. “These guys have been playing together since probably the second or thid grade. That makes a difference. That off the court chemistry is what they had that really helps.”

While he’s enjoyed this run, Carter admits the Gators might be headed for a reset next season. Eight seniors are graduating, including leading scorers Davian Williams — the 2024 Vicksburg Post boys Player of the Year — center Kameryn Bailey and guard Tyler Henderson.

Replacing them are a number of inexperienced players. Vicksburg’s eighth-grade team has won back-to-back Little Six Conference championships, but until that group percolates up to the varsity roster there could be lean times ahead.

“I say we’ll be competitive next year, but when you lose eight seniors, that’s a lot. But that’s the fun part,” Carter said with a smile.

Win or lose, Carter added that his mission as a coach goes beyond basketball. Like every other high school coach, he wants the gold ball that’s awarded to the state champion. Seeing his players grow and succeed beyond the court, however, is just as rewarding.

“Everybody wants that gold ball. But when I came in in 2017 in my interview, I hung my hat on, ‘I want to win some games, but I really want these young men to win when they leave school,’” Carter said. “When I see guys that played for myself or Coach Robinson and they’ve got families, they’ve got careers, I think that’s winning.”

Vicksburg Post Basketball Coaches of the Year
2024 – Kelvin Carter, Vicksburg
2023 – Troy Stewart and Kelvin Carter, Vicksburg
2022 – Walter Hallberg, Porter’s Chapel
2021 – Troy Stewart, Vicksburg
2020 – Troy Stewart, Vicksburg
2019 – Eddie Pickle, St. Aloysius
2018 – Bruce Robinson, Warren Central
2017 – Jackie Glass, Warren Central
2016 – Jackie Glass, Warren Central
2015 – Jackie Glass, Warren Central
2014 – Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2013 – E.J. Creel, Porters Chapel
2012 – E.J. Creel, Porters Chapel
2011 – Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2010 – Jackie Martin-Glass, Warren Central
2009 – Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2008 – Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2007 – Kyt Bonner, St. Aloysius; and Penn Majors, St. Aloysius
2006 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Drew McBrayer, St. Aloysius
2005 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Mike Grzanich, Porters Chapel
2004 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Jesse Johnson, Warren Central
2003 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2002 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2001 – Mitchell Willis, Porters Chapel; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
2000 – Mike Coleman, Vicksburg; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
1999 – Debbie Carr, Porters Chapel; and Noah Hamilton, St. Aloysius
1998 – Debbie Carr, Porters Chapel; and John Duett, Warren Central
1997 – Doc Stephens, Vicksburg; and Kenny Bizot, Porters Chapel
1996 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
1995 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and Dellie C. Robinson, Vicksburg
1994 – Donny Fuller, Warren Central; and John Duett, Warren Central

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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