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|Vikings fall to Winnfield|
It was not the best of February's for Vidalia High head boys basketball coach Robert Sanders.
After missing three games with an illness, Sanders returned to the bench for the Vikings' Class 3A first round playoff game with Winnfield only to watch his Vidalia team fall to the Tigers, 48-47 to end their season at 22-8.
The Vikings, who advanced to the quarterfinals in Class 2A last year, were seeded No. 9, while Winnfield was seeded No. 24.
"It was disappointing," Sanders said. "We just couldn't score from the outside."
Winnfield won its district, but had a 12-15 record.
"Our record wasn't that good, but we had a tough schedule," said Tiger coach James King. "We felt pretty good about a No. 24 seed. We know we have a good basketball team. We knew we had to go play ball no matter who we played against."
Both teams had trouble getting any offense going early as Vidalia led 6-5 after one period of play.
"We didn't want to get down there and get run out of the gym," King said. "We wanted to keep it close early and give ourselves a chance to play our game. We took away their penetration and was able to play physical with them. We got a lot of rebounds and made our free throws, that was the key."
The Vikings took a 20-19 halftime advantage in a contest that was nip-and-tuck the entire way.
Vidalia led 31-30 after three quarters and the final period stayed close throughout.
With 38 seconds remaining in the game, Gary Stewart put the Vikings up by one with a pair of free throws.
Winnfield's Gerell Kimbrell sank two from the charity stripe to regain the lead with 14 seconds remaining.
Vidalia's shot at the buzzer was off the mark, leaving the Vikings one point short.
"We were hoping to get the ball to Gary to take inside for a layup, but it didn't happen," Sanders said.
Stewart led the Vikings with 17 points, while Torrey Dixon added nine.
Vidalia's Brandon Hawkins finished with four points while playing with an injured ankle, while Quan Riley had five points after being out with the flu most of the week.
"It's been a learning experience," Sanders said about the season, which ended with Vidalia and Marksville tied for first place in the district with 8-2 marks, both teams winning their game on their home court. "We just never could get any kind of consistency."
Marksville fell to Albany 89-70 in a first round game, while Buckeye, which finished third in District 3-3A, lost to Franklin, 79-43.
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