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Fired-up Vikings snap Gentry jinx

Michael Castellane (32) of Warren Central grimaces as he goes for a rebound against Gentry’s Chauncey Strong. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/22/01] Warren Central’s stunning 76-59 win over division rival Gentry Friday night actually started nearly 30 hours before tipoff.

After a less-than-productive effort against Jim Hill on Tuesday, WC coach John Duett told his team the path for the rest of the year was up to them, then he stormed out of the dressing room.

Thursday afternoon, senior point guard Kevin Coker held a 45-minute, animated players-only meeting.

“We had to talk about some things,” Coker said. “That’s all the meeting was about, to try and get someone to respond.”

Obviously, his teammates were listening.

Sherman Logan, whom Coker said he got on the hardest, scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Vikings controlled the game for its entirety.

“(The meeting) motivated us tonight,” said Logan, who scored 14 of his points in the second half.

The Vikings (9-12, 1-2 Division 3-5A) roared to a 22-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to four 3-pointers and a suffocating defense. Coker, who finished with eight points, nailed a pair of treys in the opening minutes. Clifford Walker poured in 11 points and twin brother Clifton Walker scored nine, all on 3-pointers.

“This was one of the worst days we’ve ever had,” said Gentry coach Elmo Hickingbottom, whose team fell to 14-9 and 2-2 in the division. “We came out flat, didn’t do anything on offense, turned the ball over 22 times in the first half and anytime you turn the ball over that many times, especially in one half, it’s hard to get back into the ballgame.”

The Vikings’ pressure defense had plenty to do with the Rams’ problems. WC forced 12 first-quarter turnovers and 37 for the game and beat the Rams at their own up-tempo style game.

“I don’t know whether they took us for granted or not, but we jumped on them early and never slacked up,” said Duett, who recorded his first win in nine tries against the Indianola school.

The Vikings increased their lead to 37-21 at the half. Gentry managed to cut the lead to 15 in the third quarter, but Clifton Walker nailed his final 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third and give WC a 60-36 lead, its biggest of the game.

Chauncey Strong led the Rams, who had never lost to Warren Central, with 15 points and Cedric Willis came off the bench to score 11. Gentry’s leading scorer, Michael Spurlock, was held to nine points, five of which came in the closing seconds against the WC reserves.

“Don’t count Warren Central out,” said Coker, whose team still finds itself in last place in the division, but still must host Vicksburg and Greenville. “We’re starting to make our run.”

(G) WC 77, Gentry 58

LaShanda Williams wasn’t supposed to play against the Lady Rams, but after turnovers on the first four possessions, the junior point guard was forced to play.

She didn’t come out until there was one minute left in the fourth quarter.

Williams, who injured her big toe in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss at Greenville, scored just three points, but led the Lady Vikes (17-5, 2-1) past Gentry (14-8, 2-2) and kept WC just one game behind Greenville in the race for the division title.

“Finally, I said Hey, let’s see if she can go,’ ” said WC coach Donny Fuller, who recorded his 200th career win at Warren Central, and 216th of his career after guiding Philadelphia High to a 16-7 record in the early 1980s. “It was a gutty, gutty performance by a point guard.”

Williams added, “I needed to be out there. My team needed me … I came in and played.”

Williams broke the Gentry press time and time again, but it was the inside game that broke the Lady Rams’ spirits.

JaQuita Benard scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Wanda Calvin had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Lia Green scored 16 points and Lamika Miller netted 11 as the Lady Vikes got just 5 of their 72 points from guards.

“They are just hard to guard,” Gentry coach Charles Williams said of WC’s inside players. “Without much height, it’s tough.”

Gentry’s tallest player, 5-foot-9 Ferniece Galloway, had nine points, but was hampered by foul trouble all night and fouled out in the fourth quarter.

Until Galloway picked up her fourth foul in the opening minutes of the third quarter, the game was back-and-forth. Galloway went out with the game tied at 37, but WC responded with a 10-0 run to take a 10-point lead.

Gentry, which was led by Daffeyn Cobbins’ 17 points, closed the gap to 54-47 at the end of the third. Warren Central opened the fourth on a 13-0 run and held the visitors scoreless until 2:47 to play in the game.

“We played good tonight whether (Galloway) was in or not,” said Benard, who was suffering from a cold. “We played exactly how we wanted to play.”