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|Vidalia hoops prep for season|
Vidalia High's boys basketball team had high hopes going into last season with almost the entire team returning.
But the Vikings came up short of their goal, falling to Winnfireld in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
"The guys know they have to come in focused and stay that way," said Vidalia coach Robert Sanders. "One good thing we have going for us this year is more depth. We have at least two or three good players at each position except center. That should help us and it makes it more competitive."
Another reason for more optimism this season is the fact the Vikings lost only one game in four combined tournaments this summer, including going 8-1 in the Mississippi State Basketball Tournament in Starkville, Ms.
In the Mississippi State Tournament, Vidalia was playing in the Middle Varsity Division, against 4A and 3A teams from Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.
Vidalia went 5-1 in the pool division and 3-0 in the tournament.
Its only loss was to Cohoama County, Ms.
Vidalia beat Starkville II (Ms.), Hamilton Al).), Noxubee County (Ms.), Madison Central (Ms.) and Florence (Al.) in pool play before sweeping Hamilton, Lauderdale (Ms.) and Ripley (Ms.) to win the tournament.
Junior Louis Whitley won the 3-point contest, making 11 in the finals in 45 seconds.
Junior Gary Stewart finished third in the slam dunk contest.
Seniors on the 2008-09 team are Chip Davis, Jacob McGraw, Rolandin Webster and Cassius Clay.
Juniors are Stewart, Whitley, Quartrell Thomas, Quan Riley, Eric Bell and Torrey Dixon.
Sophomores are Dee Fleming, Jamon Duson, Terrance Thompson, Tri McCoy, Darrell Wilson, Reggie Reynolds, Alvin Bell, Brandon Bauchman and D.J. Polk.
Donald Pery is the lone freshman.
"We're looking for more leadership this year, especially from the junior class," Sanders said.
Stewart has received several letters from major colleges, including LSU.
"Gary is actually continuing to get better and showing more leadership skills," Sanders said of the 6-7 center who average 16.1 points and 11.5 rebounds a game last season.
Sanders said Marksville and Bunkie will be very competitive, along with Avoyelles this season.
"We can't take anyone for granted," he said. "We'll use the first part of the season establishing our rotation. We need to carry on from where we left off this summer."
With six returning starters, Vidalia High's Lady Vikings look to improve on a 2-win season.
"We've got a good starting five to put on the floor, I just wish we had a little more depth," said Lady Viking coach Damus Smith.
Seniors are Erika Brown, Candace Hale, Dejanae Harris, Kelicia Reynolds, Tyshica Rodgers and Jessica Warner.
Juniors are Alaina Burns, Shelbi Craft and Gabrielle Wagoner. Skyler Marceleno is the lone sophomore.
Freshmen are Sydney Parker, Kisha Swanson and Toni Swanson.
"Alaina shoots the ball well from the outside and should give us some production there and I think we will be stronger inside with Erika and Gabby than we have been in the past," Smith said. "Tyshica is stronger and will do a good job at point guard and Dejanae will do well at the No. 3 position. Candace, Jessica, Kelecia and Shelby and Skyler will help off the bench and we need to get our freshmen some playing time in some JV and freshman games."
Smith said Marksville and Buckeye will be strong again this season in district.
"It's important we get some early success," Smith said. "This is a good, hard-working group and they are always anxious to get in the gym."
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