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|Vidalia claims first 3A title|
Vidalia High claimed its first-ever Class 3A state championship and its second boys basketball state title as the Vikings shocked Carroll High 82-59 Friday at the Cajundome in Lafayette.
Carroll, which moved down from Class 4A to 3A and defeated defending champion Richwood for the third time this season to reach the finals, was out-played, out-hustled and outclassed by the Vikings.
It was a far cry from last season when Vidalia fell to Richwood, 75-61, shooting 36.8 percent from the field and being out-rebounded 48-33.
The Vikings finished their season at 32-4.
Vidalia outscored Carroll 19-10 in the opening period and 29-13 in the second quarter.
The Vikings shot an amazing 65.5 percent in the first half, while Carroll shot 42.3 percent.
Vidalia forced 12 turnovers in the first half and finished the game with 38 rebounds to 32 for Carroll.
"The guys were loose before the game and they came out focused," said Vidalia boys head coach Robert Sanders. "If we didn't have as many unforced turnovers as we did it would not have been that close."
After a dunk by Carroll's Dashiell Franklin to start the game, it was all Vidalia.
The Vikings forced eight Carroll turnovers in the first quarter and used a 3-point basket by Gary Stewart at the buzzer to take a 19-10 first quarter lead.
"I felt like the first team that relaxed and settled down would be successful," said Carroll head coach Jesse Burnette. "We never got into any type of flow. Vidalia has a very good basketball team. They had dedicated this season to getting back there and finishing the job."
Carroll finished with no fast break points in the first period, while Vidalia had four.
Stewart hit his second 3-pointer to start the second period, Quan Riley hit a layup off a pass from Quartrell Thomas and Torrey Dixon hit two free throws after blocking a shot by Josh Tarver to increase the Viking lead to 25-10.
"When I am hitting my outside shots, it opens up me being able to drive to the goal," Stewart said. "We were all determined to go out and play hard and make sure we didn't let them back in the game."
A layup by Dixon and another 3-pointer from Stewart followed by a 3-pointer by Riley increased the Viking lead to 33-12.
Thomas then converted a 3-point play, Dixon slammed a dunk and added a 3-pointer and Vidalia led 45-16 with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter.
D.J. Polk scored on a layup with six seconds remaining before Carroll's Xavier Lee heaved a shot almost the length of the floor that went in to make the score 48-23 at halftime.
Vidalia shot an amazing 65.5 percent in the first half, while Carroll shot 42.3. The Vikings made 5-of-7 3-pointers in the first half.
Vidalia forced three quick turnovers in the third period and kept the pressure on the Bulldogs, leading 57-28 after two free throws by Stewart at the 4:16 mark.
A basket by Dixon after a quick pass from Eric Bell followed by a layup by Bell put Vidalia up 61-30.A jumper by Dixon with 14 seconds remaining in the third period put Vidalia up 61-39.
"Torrey always comes up big in the big games," Sanders said.
Sanders emptied his bench early in the final period as the Vikings coasted to the win.
"We kept saying throughout the second half that the game was not over," Sanders said.
Dixon finished 11-of-13 from the field with 25 points.
"Torrey came up big in all our big games this season," Sanders said.
Dixon was 8-of-11 from the field and scored 18 points last year against Richwood in the finals.
"I think we were more hungry this year," Dixon said. "I also feel like I was a better player this year. I got in better position for easier shots. I guess my biggest asset is anticipating where the basketball is going."
Thomas was 7-of-12 with 18 points against Carroll and had five assists.
"I come down and try to create something to get somebody open," Thomas said. "I tried to make the defense commit. Everybody did a great job this year. It feels great to be state champions. I just feel complete."
Stewart was 5-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line for 17 points. D.J. Polk was 4-of-6 from the field for nine points.
"Gary hitting the outside shot was big because if they guarded him tighter he could drive and score or pass it off," Sanders said.
Stewart was named Most Valuable Player of the game, but offered the trophy to Dixon, who handed it back to him.
"I was really shocked when they called my name, I thought Torrey deserved it," Stewart said. "But the main thing was winning the championship."
"Gary earned it," Dixon said. "I couldn't take it from him. But it was all about winning the state trophy."
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