WC finishes strong, drops opener

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Frances Patton (11) of Warren Central fights for a rebound against West Monroe’s Shani Armstrong, left, as Michelle Riley, right, and Misty Roark, back right, look on. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

Warren Central’s last four minutes were the best coach Donny Fuller has seen in a long time.

The first 28 minutes, however, he could have done without.

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After digging a 20-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Vikes (0-1) put on a furious rally, but fell just short, 65-59, in the opening game of the season for both teams.

“We lost, but we showed some character tonight,” said Fuller, who returns all five starters from last year’s 12-19 team. “We’re down 20 with four minutes to go and you can load the wagon, go to the house and lose by 30. But they fought to the end.”

West Monroe (0-1) began wholesale substitutions with 3:59 left in the game and the Lady Rebels cruising with a 59-37 lead. Warren Central countered with six straight points to cut the lead to 59-43 when the starters came back into the game for West Monroe.

“When I brought my starters back into the game, they couldn’t get anything going,” first-year Lady Rebels coach Donnie Quinn said. “I thought they were going to get us for sure. I didn’t think we would be able to hold on. I could see it in my team’s eye. No one wanted the ball. We are real fortunate to get out of here.”

Six-footer JaQuita Benard, who scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and 62 Lia Green (12 points, eight rebounds) scored six points apiece in the final run. WC used a 17-2 spurt to get to within seven, 61-54, with 52 seconds to play.

“Those two are impossible to guard,” Quinn said of the Lady Vikes’ twin towers. “I told our girls at halftime that I don’t have a defense for that. All I could tell them was, good luck,’ ”

Green’s basket with 29 seconds to play made the score 63-56, but on the next possession, after WC stole the inbounds pass, Green was whistled for her fourth foul.

LaShanda Williams, who played in the state softball championship series on Saturday and has had limited practice, had nine second-half points and Wanda Calvin netted eight, including a pair of 3-pointers.

West Monroe’s Shani Armstrong led all scorers with 18 points and Michelle Riley had 12 as the Lady Rebels scored at will all game by beating WC down the floor on transition.

The visitors from Louisiana led 34-18 at halftime.

“Our transition defense stunk. We were terrible at getting back,” Fuller said. “I promise this, we will get better. We may not run offense this week (in practice), but we will guard some folks.”