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Lady Vikes, Gators take tourney titles

[12/03/01]Wanda Calvin came up big when Warren Central needed it, but even her 21 points wasn’t as big as the Lady Vikes’ fourth-quarter defense.

WC (12-0) held archrival Vicksburg High scoreless for the final 3 minutes, 5 seconds in a 53-44 win for the Lady Vikes’ third straight Warren Central Classic title.

“We won the championship and that’s all that counts,” said senior guard LaShanda Williams, who was held to nine points, but hit four straight free throws to ice it late in the fourth quarter.

Calvin led all scorers with 21 points and JaQuita Benard had nine points and eight rebounds.

Keisha Truly and Shayla White each had eight points to lead the Missy Gators (7-6). White’s two fourth-quarter 3-pointers pulled Vicksburg to within four points its closest of the night midway through the fourth quarter.

“We hustled and got ourselves back into the ballgame because the first quarter looked like a disaster,” Vicksburg coach Mike Coleman said. “It ended up being a pretty good ballgame.”

The Lady Vikes converted five-of-six free throws inside the final minute after the Missy Gators missed five straight which would have given them the lead.

Williams hit four in a row and Benard nailed a free throw for the final margin.

“These kids have played a lot of basketball together and you look out there late in the game and we have four seniors on the floor,” WC coach Donny Fuller said. “We wanted to get the ball in LaShanda’s hands because she’s a good free-throw shooter.”

Warren Central opened a 19-6 lead after the first quarter thanks to poor Vicksburg shooting and the Lady Vikes’ offensive execution. Calvin had 10 in the first quarter.

“They did a better job from the floor and on free throws,” Coleman said. “In the first quarter, it seemed like everything they threw up went in.”

A Vicksburg rally in the second behind a trapping defense cut the lead to 32-24 at the half. Truly came off the bench to score eight points in the second quarter to lead the comeback.

A change in offenses in the third quarter to try and free up the Lady Vikes’ outside shooters almost backfired. WC was just 3 of 18 from 3-point range.

“We were a little impatient on offense,” Fuller said. “We were getting open looks, but we weren’t facing up on it. …Vicksburg was doing a good job taking away our inside game and forced us to shoot outside.”

Vicksburg center Rae Evans held Benard to one point in the second half and scored seven for VHS.

The Missy Gators will play host to Forest Hill on Tuesday, while the Lady Vikes travel to Madison Central.

“We’ll get over this one,” Missy Gators’ Tricia Dart said. “It’s the past and now we have to move on.”