After a quarterfinals appearance last season and a semifinals appearance the season before, the Vidalia Indians appear poised for a state championship run with a senior-heavy squad. They're the state's No. 2-ranked team and off to a 16-0 start that includes four region wins heading into their Jan. 14 home matchup with local rival Montgomery County, whom they've already defeated 87-28 earlier this season.
Winning by a wide margin is a familiar trend so far this season for the Indians. With a balanced scoring attack that features six players averaging around double-digits in points, they've outscored opponents by an average of 79-36. No team has come closer than 15 points.
"We've played really well so far," Indians coach Tommy Dalley said. "Our defense is way ahead of our offense at this point, which is a good sign. We've got a group of older kids that have been together awhile and who feed off each other and have great chemistry. They work well together."
The Indians have thrived under the leadership of eight seniors, including 6-foot-7-inch wing man Ramel Thompkins, an AJC All-State selection last year. He's averaging 12.8 points and 7 rebounds - both team highs.
While Thompkins' scoring average doesn't stand out for a team that's been winning its games by an average of 43 points, offense isn't what fuels the Indians to blowout victories - it's their defense.
"We're a pressing team that gets up and down the floor 94 feet," Dalley said. "We're all about transition basketball and we play well together."
Their press forces the opposition to turn the ball over and once in transition, it's about finding the open man for the Indians. That explains the steady team scoring line that includes Jordan Black (12 points per game), Malik Mincey (10.1), Alton McCloud (10) and Dada Holloway (9).
But while the wins have come easy thus far, Dalley said his team is only concerned about playing at the highest level and earning a third consecutive region title, which is accompanied by a coveted No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. Having come so close to advancing in the playoffs the previous seasons - they lost by just two points to Bleckley County last year in the quarterfinals and nine points to Manchester in the semifinals the year before - Dalley knows this is the final season for this group of seniors to lead the way.
And that road to a region title continues next with Montgomery County.
"We're taking every game as it comes. There's a lot of work to do before it's time to think about seeding. Our goal is to try an win region and get the top seed. We're extremely motivated to come to work every day and we know what it takes to go to where we've been and how to get past that."
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