Lady Vikes start, finish strong, beat West Ouachita

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 9, 2002

[01/09/02]Wanda Calvin and Wendy Thomas took up the scoring slack as Warren Central topped West Ouachita, 56-42, Tuesday night.

Calvin finished with 21 points and Thomas added 14 as the Lady Vikes (18-3) pulled away in the fourth quarter despite getting just four field goals from JaQuita Benard and LaShanda Williams.

“I wouldn’t have believed it,” WC coach Donny Fuller said when asked if he thought his team could win with that little offense from Benard and Williams. “It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it.”

Both teams started out hot, trading baskets in the first quarter. The Lady Chiefs (8-12) made five of their first six shots and WC made five of its first seven en route to a 22-15 lead headed into the second quarter.

But the Lady Vikes managed just 17 points over the next two periods.

“We kind of let up,” Fuller said. “LaShanda just had an off night. She had been shooting the ball really well the last few games.”

West Ouachita’s Amber Brandon, who has committed to Grambling, scored a game-high 23 on 9-of-11 shooting. She and Calvin matched each other with 11 in the first quarter before WC made the defensive adjustments to slow down the 6-foot-3 center.

West Ouachita coach Randy Myer said his team had trouble jelling with Bird Thomas back in the lineup. It was her first game back after getting academically eligible, Myer said.

“We couldn’t get in the flow with her,” he said, adding that it’s just a matter of time before she does.

Bird Thomas averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds and was selected all-state in Louisiana last season, he said. WC held her to four points.

The Lady Chiefs pulled within two in the second quarter and got within three in the third and fourth before Wendy Thomas took over. She got three of her four steals and scored nine points in the final period.

Benard and Williams finished with just seven points apiece. Benard didn’t make a shot from the field until the final 3:20, but she did gather 16 rebounds. WC shot 33 percent from the field, but Calvin and Thomas were a combined 13-of-21 (62 percent).

“Warren Central’s perimeter game was stronger than ours,” said Myer, who was an assistant at Louisiana Tech while Fuller was an assistant at Ole Miss. “Their guards really stepped up.”

Fuller was happy with the way his team started and finished, but what happened in between needs to improve in a hurry. WC faces tough division foe Natchez Friday.

“If we play like that at Natchez,” he said, “there’s no way we’ll win.”