No. 4 Murrah hangs on against pesky WC

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2000

[12/29/00] JACKSON Warren Central wanted some respect when the Lady Vikes tackled No. 4 Murrah.

Coach Donny Fuller believes they got it.

WC (15-3), which had not lost a game to a Mississippi school this year, took the three-time defending state champion Lady Mustangs (16-2) to the wire before falling, 46-41, in the semifinals of the Jackson Public Schools Tournament at Forest Hill.

“I told our girls that they needed to walk out of here with their heads held high,” Fuller said. “If they didn’t gain any respect over here playing the way they did, they never will.”

JaQuita Benard led the Lady Vikes with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Alabama-Birmingham signee Lia Green scored 10 and grabbed 10 boards.

Raven Rogers, considered one of the top players in Mississippi, led the Lady Mustangs with 19 points and Crystal Jackson scored 11.

Nine first-quarter turnovers put WC in a hole early, and despite tying the game on several occasions, the Lady Vikes could never take the lead.

“I think they were a little apprehensive at the start,” Murrah coach Anna Jackson said. “We played our regular zone defense. We didn’t do anything special.”

After Warren Central tied the game at 34 with six minutes to play, Murrah reeled off nine straight points over the next three minutes for a 43-34 lead. WC would get within four, 43-39, with two minutes to play, but Wendy Thomas was whistled for a foul, then bounced the ball into the stands and was slapped with a technical foul.

Murrah hit three free throws for a seven point lead.

“I told her after the game, there is only one person on this team that can get a technical foul and that’s me,” Fuller said. “And I haven’t gotten one in four or five years.”

WC added a basket late in the game, but a pair of late turnovers ended any comeback hopes.

Trailing 13-8 at the end of the first, WC went on a 7-2 run in the first four minutes of the second quarter to tie the game at 15.

Murrah responded, however, with a 9-0 run to end the half with a 24-15 lead.

After falling behind 29-19, WC used an 8-2 run to pull within four late in the third quarter.

“We never could get over the hump,” Fuller said. “But when you play good teams in tight ballgames, it makes you better. I’ve always believed in playing good competition.”