As usual, JPS tournament field loaded with exceptional talent

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

[12/23/02]The Christmas vacation will come to an abrupt halt for Warren Central basketball when they dip into the Jackson Public Schools Holiday Tournament Thursday.

The Lady Vikes (7-7) won’t even have time to test the waters with a 3 p.m. first-round game against Bailey at Provine, a team that has a win against No. 13 ranked Provine under their belt.

A first-round win would send the Lady Vikes into a second-round game with either Provine, or LaCourtney Ratliff and Canton. Ratliff is an Ole Miss recruit.

“We got our hands full,” Lady Vikes coach Donny Fuller said. “We don’t have an easy bracket, just your typical cupcakes, one after another.”

But it isn’t as if the Lady Vikes are without their own reputation in this tournament. Last year’s Lady Vikes played their way to the championship game against Murrah.

Chasity Blue is the only remaining starter from that WC team, but as Fuller was quick to point out, the Lady Vikes made it that far without a handful of injured starters and after winning an 88-87 thriller against Callaway.

“Main thing is, we’re going to go over there and play tough competition,” Fuller said. “You get better by playing good people.”

The Vikings do not have the storied success of their Lady Vikes counterparts.

In last year’s tournament they were eliminated after two straight games, but with an 11-3 start and a Coca-Cola Tournament championship trophy added to their resum, the Vikings are decidedly a different team and facing a very similar one in Bailey.

“They are very athletic, they press full court man-to-man. It’s going to be a tough game,” Vikings coach Preston Wilson said. “They’re going to make it an 80-foot game, that’s our style also, so it should be an exciting game.”

The competition won’t get any easier for WC with second round opponents like Provine and Canton, and with the imposing shadow of top-ranked Lanier encompassing the entire bracket.

“We would certainly like the privilege of playing Lanier, and if we can get a couple games in this tournament, I think it will push us through the rest of the season,” Wilson said.