By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – No lead is safe when Victoria Vivians is on the basketball court.
H.W. Byers coach Jason Thompson witnessed that last season when Scott Central’s senior shootist led her team from a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to a 3-point win against New Site in the state championship game.
“We know how she took her team on her back,” Thompson said. “I told my kids we’re not going to take our foot off the gas.”
Thompson’s Lady Lions put the pedal to the metal Thursday, protecting a 16-point third-quarter lead to defeat Vivians and her Lady Rebels 69-54 in the MHSAA Class 2A State Tournament’s championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The championship was Byers’ fourth straight after winning three consecutive gold balls in Class 1A. The Lady Lions have won six state titles under Thompson, including 2008 and ’09.
Vivians, a Mississippi State signee, scored 43 points – three under her season average – against Laniqua Collins and Byers’ box-and-one scheme. No other players scored in double figures for Scott Central (28-7), the defending state champion.
“You can’t take away everything a good player does,” Collins said. “But, one person does not make a team.”
Vivians connected on 13 of 27 from the field, but was 0-for-5 on 3-point attempts. She also added 18 rebounds.
Byers (25-8) held Vivians to 11 points in the first half and built a 30-17 halftime lead. She scored all 16 of her team’s points in the third quarter.
“We wanted to contest her shots, close the lane and follow up on the boards,” Thompson said. “These kids put forth a lot of effort.”
Byers, led by Abria Gulledge, who scored 20 points, and Miracle Duncan, who added 13 points and 16 rebounds, traded field goals with Scott Central down the stretch.
“It’s been a tremendous season and a tremendous ride,” Thompson said.