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Franklin Parish head boys basketball coach Wystee Kerry sat in the stands Friday night watching Vidalia High take on Carroll in the Class 3A state championship game.
Carroll head coach Jesse Burnette may have been wise to talk to Kerry before the game after the Vikings destroyed the Bulldogs 82-59 for the school's first-ever Class 3A state championship and the second-ever boys basketball title.
"I was a bit surprised how Carroll did not show up, but I knew Vidalia was the best team," Kerry said. "They probably could have won it Class 2A, Class 4A and Class 5A.
Vidalia lost only four games on the season - losing to St. Thomas More, which lost out in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A Tournament, in the finals 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.
As for the other losses, Vidalia played in the presigious 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 Franklin Parish 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 gainst 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."
Kerry said watching the state championship game was a good experience. He knows making it there next year is a long shot, but even a couple of years if things fall right the Patriots could surprise some people.
Franklin Parish finished 22-6 this season, falling in the first round 59-52 to McDonogh #35 in New Orleans.
While next year will be a rebuilding year after losing five seniors, Kerry did play several sophomores throughout the seasonfrom a team which finished third in the district.
Kerry has led Franklin Parsh to two consecutive 20-win seasons in his two years.
"We've got a lot of work to do and we'll be in a rebuilding mode next year," Kerry said. "But you see what happens with a team like Vidalia when you can get a group staying together and they buy into the system early. I saw those guys when they were freshmen and I knew it was a talented group of kids. We've got some good young kids and we're going to hit the weights and this summer we're going to send our junior varsity team to a camp and our varsity team to a camp. Class 4A is tough in basketball just like it is in football. But there's no reason we can't experience something like that if the players are committed and stick together."