The Charging Indians’ Mark Vital reaches for the dunk against Opelousas Tuesday night at Washington-Marion. Vital scored 26 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to help W-M take sole possession of first place in district. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 2:12 PM
Washington-Marion forward Mark Vital added a few more entries to his YouTube dunk highlight reels, but his less spectacular work on the boards proved to be the difference in W-M’s 88-73 win over Opelousas.
The win Tuesday night gave the fifth-ranked Charging Indians sole possession in the District 5-4A race.
Opelousas (15-6, 1-1) had been the only other undefeated team in district play. The Tigers gave W-M problems for most of the first three quarters, but W-M exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Vital led W-M (16-5, 3-0) with 26 points and 17 rebounds. In the first half, he had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine second-chance points. W-M scored 27 second-chance points.
Jeremiah Warren scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as W-M stretched a seven-point lead early in the quarter to as many as 18. Dionte Dixon scored nine of his 12 points in the final quarter.
Vital had five points, three rebounds and an assist in the quarter.
“His game is going to develop as the year goes,” said W-M head coach Albert Hartwell of Vital. “He plays team ball. He likes to dunk, but he plays for the team. He is not getting the charging fouls anymore; he is taking the short jumper, he is seeing the floor better, moving better and can play several positions because he has basketball sense.”
The Tigers had a skywalker of their own in Da’quan Bellard, who threw down a pair of dunks en route to a team-high 23 points.
“That kid can jump out the gym,” Hartwell said. “He kept his motor going. They played hard. We hit the boards hard on the offensive end and did not give up as many second-chance shots as usual. We fouled too much in the first three quarters and they stayed close.
“In the fourth quarter we changed the defense a little, got more aggressive and just asserted ourselves a little big more. We started looking for the open pass more, found the weak-side pass and got some easy layups, then didn’t miss free throws like we have in the past. It was a big win, this week is very big in going towards where we want to go.”
Dedrick Richmond scored 14 points for W-M. Martel Morris scored 16 and Keenan Garrette and David Broussard each scored 12 for Opelousas.
W-M (7-13, 1-2) led wire-to-wire to pick up its first district win of the season.
The Charging Indians scored the first 10 points of the game to take control and extended the lead with a 9-0 outburst in the second quarter and a 11-0 spurt in the third.
W-M center Ashley Cherry dominated the paint and scored a game-high 25 points while Monasha Eddie, Dasia Vitor and Ty’Janique Celestine scored 12 each.
Natasia Miles led Opelousas (9-12, 1-1) with 16 points. Sydney Stewart scored 12.