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|Stewart, Sanders top 3A team|
Vidalia High head coach Robert Sanders and Viking junior Gary Stewart were named Class 3A Coach and Player of the Year, respectively by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Vidalia junior guard Quartrell Thomas, who averaged 16.1 points a game, was named as an honorable mention.
Ferriday senior Levier Pryor was named as an honorable mention on the Class 2A All-State team.
Sanders led Vidalia to a 30-2 season as the Vikings fell to Richwood in the Class 3A state championship game.
"It was a great experience," Stewart said. "We made some mistakes in the final game and I wish we could have won it, but we everybody played hard."
Vidalia went 10-0 in District 3-3A play.
The 6-foot-4 Stewart, who played inside and outside for the Vikings, averaged 16.4 points a game.
"It was a fun season," Stewart said. "We had a lot of team chemistry and the fan support was great. That was one of the main things. Our fans helped us through some tough games."
Vidalia actually had some tough games early, losing its only regular season game to Sicily Island at the start of the season.
"We were kind of down, but we worked through it and played harder," Stewart said. "Everybody stepped up. There was no individual player, it was all a team effort. We had practiced together so much during the summer that we knew what each other was going to do without anyone having to say anything."
Stewart also excels in the classroom, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
"My mom (Sharon Stewart) has always pushed me and tells me if I don't make the grades, I'm not playing basketball," Stewart said. "And my dad (Gary Stewart) tells me to always have something to fall back on after basketball is over."
Sanders is certainly happy to have Stewart and several of his teammates back for next season.
"Needless to say we didn't expect to go 32-2," Sanders said. "One of our goals was to get to the championship game. "The guys really played level-headed all season, even though they gave us gray hairs at times. They showed up at game time ready to play."
Sanders said it was after the second playoff game, a win over Crowley, that he felt his team could make a real run.
"I had my doubts going into that game and felt better after that one, and even better after beating Port Allen," he said. "There were a lot of people picking Port Allen to beat us. But the guys really came together."
Sanders said the team got a lot of motivation from people saying they were overrated during the season.
"They read a lot of Kenramsey.com bulletin board," he said with a laugh. "That was a lot of motivation for them to go out and play hard."
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