Down 15 in fourth, WC girls come back

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Donny Fuller and Lady Vikes Debraka Smith (32) and Kim Smith celebrate after Lia Green draws a late foul. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

[01/29/01] If the Warren Central Lady Vikes proved one thing Saturday night in the Red Carpet Classic, it’s never to count them out.

Senior Lia Green scored 12 of her game-high 22 in the fourth quarter as the Lady Vikes (21-6) completed an amazing comeback to knock off St. Frederick (La.), 65-56.

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“Our team showed a lot of character tonight. They bowed their necks and didn’t want to lose,” said WC coach Donny Fuller, whose team lost to the Lady Warriors (23-7) in a tournament in December. “I was so proud of them after the game, I don’t know who was happier, the players or the coach. I told them after the game that folks better jump on this train because this train is rolling down the track pretty good right now.”

After the Lady Warriors scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to take a 50-35 lead, WC outscored the visitors 30-6 to end the game the final six points coming on free throws after a foul and technical on Charita Birden and a pair of technicals on St. Frederick coach John Merritt.

Merritt had been complaining the entire game about the officials and drew the two techs with 18 seconds to play and the Lady Vikes holding a 59-56 lead.

“We got ourselves in some foul trouble in the first half, especially our post players, and I knew at halftime it would come back to hurt us,” said Merritt, whose team is 0-7 this season when giving up 50 or more points. “I thought we had put ourselves in a position with the lead in the fourth quarter that maybe we could hide a little bit.”

Green hit five of six free throw attempts on the technicals and LaShanda Williams nailed one to seal the win.

“We took it to them,” Green said after earning game most valuable player honors. “We played good defense and took it to them inside. That’s our strong point.”

JaQuita Benard scored 17 points and snagged 11 rebounds, while Wanda Calvin scored 13 and Lameka Miller came off the bench to score 10.

Annie Albritton scored 15 including three 3-pointers and Birden netted 12 for St. Frederick. Fran Boyd and Mary Abell, the Lady Warriors’ top post players, sat most of the first half in foul trouble, combining for just 12 points.

Albritton scored 11 off the bench in the second quarter as St. Frederick held a 29-25 lead at the end of the half. The Lady Warriors extended the lead to 48-35 at the end of the third before WC moved to a pressure defense.

The Lady Vikes answered with a 9-0 run in the fourth and took the lead for good on a Benard layup with 1:22 left in the game.

“When you’re down 13 and can’t score, it’s easy to say let’s fold the tent and lose by 25,” Fuller said. “Our kids fought back and ended up pulling it out.”

(B) WC 65, Quitman 63

Warren Central’s version of the cardiac kids are up to their old tricks again.

WC (12-12) erased en eight-point deficit in the final 3 minutes, 33 seconds to upend Quitman (12-11) in the finale of the Classic.

Kevin Coker scored a game-high 19 points nine in the final quarter to lead the Vikings’ second straight comeback and fourth win in a row. WC battled back to beat division rival Greenville Friday night, 63-62.

“This is our team. This is how we are,” said Coker, who earned most valuable player honors. “We believe in each other and never give up.”

Coker led three Vikings in double figures. Michael Castellane and Michael Hunt each had 11. Sherman Logan scored nine, but left in the third quarter after landing awkwardly on his wrist after being fouled. His status for Tuesday’s game against Crystal Springs is in question.

WC trailed 9-4 early in the first, but took the lead on a Logan 3-pointer with 3:27 to go in the first and did not trail again until David Laphand’s 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the third quarter.

Laphand, who earned team MVP honors, and Renaldo McKenzie scored 17 apiece. Laphand also grabbed 11 rebounds.

A Castellane basket with 10 seconds left in the third ended a 9-0 Quitman run, but WC still trailed 50-45 heading into the final quarter.

With two minutes to play, Castellane hit one free throw to tie the game at 58 and Hunt followed with a three-point play to give WC a 61-58 lead, one it did not relinquish.

“Our slogan is the time is now, not yesterday and not tomorrow so do it today,'” WC coach John Duett said. “We showed heart tonight that I didn’t know they had and that’s the good thing about this profession is that they never cease to amaze you.

“… It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”