Vikings win to set up all-Warren County final

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2002

[11/15/02]If Warren Central’s backcourt play is any indication of their future success, then the Coca-Cola Classic should prove to be a refreshing jumpstart to the Vikings’ season.

The Vikings’ Ronnie Jones and Brian Phelps used a second half scoring binge to blow past Jefferson County 52-35, propelling WC to the championship game against Vicksburg Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

“In the third quarter the Warren Central defense intensified, and it turned the ball game,” Jefferson County coach Marcus Walton said.

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Jones scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half and collected seven rebounds and five assists, while Phelps scored nine second-half points.

“Both did a good job,” Vikings coach Preston Wilson said. “Ronnie is a good shooter and Brian really stepped up.”

The game started as anything but an offensive show. Both teams struggled to find their shot as the Vikings took an 8-6 lead into the second quarter.

The Viking defense proved to be the determining factor in the second quarter, using six steals to push a 13-6 run before the Tigers’ Dewones Smith could stop the bleeding with a 3-pointer.

The damage was done and the Vikings took a 22-15 lead into halftime.

Smith, who shot 1-for-10 in the game, had the dubious distinction of falling under the Vikings’ defensive microscope.

“We knew (Smith) was their go-to guy, so when he had the ball we mirrored him and made him put it on the floor,” Wilson said.

The defensive focus on Smith allowed other Tigers to find the basket and they started the third quarter with a 4-0 run to close the gap to 22-19.

The Vikings took it personal.

With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Vikings used a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 41-23 going into the fourth. The Tigers never recovered.

The Vikings’ win will put them in a head-to-head early season showdown with their nemesis the Gators.

“Vicksburg High is very athletic,” Wilson said, “and anytime Warren Central and Vicksburg matchup, it’s a dogfight.”

Cleveland 61, WC 39

The Lady Kittens went about proving their No. 9 ranking was no joke, mauling the young Lady Vikes to advance to the Coca-Cola Classic championship game against Provine on Saturday. Provine beat Vicksburg 67-45 in the other semifinal.

“This is the first time that we have ever beaten Warren Central. Our ranking doesn’t matter when we come in here and play a Donny Fuller-coached team,” Cleveland coach Jenny McCullough said. “You are always the underdog.

“So we patented our program off Warren Central basketball.”

The Lady Kittens mimicked the style to perfection as they scored four straight baskets on three Lady Vike turnovers to start the game, before pushing ahead to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter.

The Lady Vikes couldn’t control the deadly inside-out tandem of center Ashley Selby (16 points) and forward Tish Brown (11 points), and scrambled to find their own identity while going through a four-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter after closing to 13 early in the quarter.

Cookie Johnson collected a double-double for the Lady Vikes with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Carla Latham came off the bench to supply eight points.

“They’re a very experienced team, a very good basketball team. They’ve come down here for the last couple years with that young team and we’ve taken it to them when we had the experienced team,” Fuller said. “Now we’re the young team and they’re the experienced team and they took it to us tonight.”