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Story Archives: Game, set and match for Vikings
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|Game, set and match for Vikings|
A lot of people were picking Vidalia High to win the Class 3A state championship in boys basketball this season.
A lot more people were amazed Friday night with the ease in which the Vikings accomplished that feat.
Vidalia dominated tradition-rich Carroll 82-59 in Lafayette Friday night, with the outcome having basically been decided by halftime.
"It's a great feeling to finally get one," said Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders, who graduated from Vidalia in 1972 and has been head boys basketball coach since 1991.
"A lot of people predicted it before the season began and I'm just glad we were able to live up to the expectations."
Ken Simmons led Vidalia to the Class 2A title in 1979 with the likes of Kalpatrick Wells and Kelvin Mays, defeating Varnado 49-42.
And Robert Sanders was just as deserving of a state championship.
Sanders is a guy who drives the bus for the football team and films games and attends other sporting events for Vidalia teams.
He was always known for his trademark lollipop on the bench, but it was pieces of gum he was giving a workout to on Friday night.
"I'm not really sure when I stopped with the lollipop during games," Sanders said with a laugh. "A student used to bring me one. It wasn't just a matter of me giving it up."
Vidalia's defense was a sticky as a lollipop for most of the night Friday.
The Vikings kept Carroll from converting any fast break baskets in the first period.
Carroll, a team with eight seniors, had six turnovers in the first three minutes.
Gary Stewart hit the first of three 3-pointers (missing only one) with two seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Vikings a 19-10 advantage.
Stewart hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the second period for a 22-10 lead and Carroll had to be feeling like a newly-washed car sitting in a bird sanctuary.
The Vikings then outscored Carroll 26-13 the rest of the period despite a long shot by Xavier Lee from almost under his own goal at the buzzer (after he walked and actually let the ball loose after the horn went off).
The Vikings kept the pressure on in the third period and the Bulldogs had to be feeling like a mini-bag of popcorn after it had been left in the microwave two minutes past the required time.
The Vikings have been known this season to let team's back in contests or fall asleep in certain quarters, but there would be none of that on this night.
Vidalia smelled blood and its first Class 3A state championship (the 1979 team won the 2A title) and finished the Bulldogs off in grand style.
It was a far different cry than last year when Vidalia fell to Richwood, 75-61. The Rams outscored the Vikings 22-10 in the second quarter.
And, I believe, you will have a harder time finding someone feeling any better right now than Vidalia senior Quartrell Thomas.
Against Richwood last year, Thomas was 4-for-17 from the field and 2-of-7 from 3-point land.
Against Carroll Friday, Thomas was 7-of-12 from the field, scoring 18 points and dishing out five assists.
"I had more confidence this year and and we had more players step up," Thomas said. 'It made me play harder."
Stewart was 6-of-14 from the field last year and 1-for-4 from 3-point land. Against Carroll, he was 5-for-10 from the field, including the 3-for-4 from 3-point land.
Dixon was actually 8-for-11 from the field last year. His 11-for-13 mark this year gives him 19-for-24 from the field in state championship games. Let's see somebody beat that.
Vidalia averaged 86.8 through five playoff games this season, allowing an average of 56.4 points.
Vidalia lost only four games on the season - losing to St. Thomas More 70-68 in the semifinals of St. Thomas More's tournament. St. Thomas More paid tribute to their coach after the game. Considering some of the calls made during the game, it was a wonder it was that close. Stewart was called for traveling while driving to the basket for the game-tying basket. St. Thomas More lost out in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A Tournament to Jesuit by three points.
As for the other losses, Vidalia played in the prestigious Sportsmed Shootout in Huntsville, Al.
The Vikings lost to Lee High of Huntsville, 72-52. Lee won the Class 5A state championship in Alabama earlier this month.
Vidalia's other game was against Class 6A Hillcrest (62-48), which went into the 6A playoffs seeded No. 2 in the state before being upset by Carver of Montgomery.
As for the fourth loss — after losing four times to Vidalia last season, the Patriots defeated Vidalia 90-84 in the Tensas Tournament last November. Vidalia avenged the loss with a 64-54 in Winnsboro.
"The key for the game we won against Vidalia was doing a better job on the boards," Kerry said. "We did a good job rebounding and limiting them to second chance shots. No. 22 (Torrey Dixon) is a beast under the goal for Vidalia. We did a good job in the game we won of putting a body on him."
Actually, Burnette probably would not have gotten much out of Kerry, who is a good friend of Sanders.
"I talked with Coach Sanders all last week," he said. "We were talking about the game and I was wishing him luck. I was trying to help him hunt down some game film on Carroll. I told him I was there for him if he needed anything."
Obviously, Sanders had it under control.
And finally, a tip of the hat to Vidalia baseball coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir. He re-arranged his baseball tournament to allow his players to go to Lafayette Friday even though his team certainly needed games.
The basketball team was escorted through town Saturday when it arrived back from Lafayette and the baseball team ran out to the road to welcome the champions.
Hoffpauir allowed Torrey Dixon, Quan Riley and Quartrell Thomas to throw out the first pitch.
A class act given to a class team.
And the Viking baseball team did its part, defeating defending Class B champion Oak Hill and cross-river rival Cathedral on Saturday to go 2-0 in the Catfish Classic.
It was quite a weekend for Vidalia High.
Spring break could not have come at a better time. Take a break guys, you deserve it.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|