WC knocks off 5A champion Vicksburg, 68-57

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Warren Central’s Marcus Harvey (32) leads the Vikings’ celebration on the bench after the team upset Vicksburg in the opening round of the Division 6-5A Tournament on Tuesday. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[2/18/04]With one fell swoop, Warren Centralannounced a changing of the guard.

Attacking the basket with aggressive force all game, WC eliminated defending Class 5A champion Vicksburg from the Division 6-5A Tournament on Tuesday, 68-57.

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Four Vikings registered double figures in scoring, led by Chico Hunter’s 17 points.

Brandon Harper and Sedrick Williams each scored 13 for the Gators, who finish the season at 13-16.

Warren Central defeated Vicksburg early in the year, but had lost its previous two meetings against the Gators, with the most recent coming 10 days ago.

“We had been looking forward to this game for a good two weeks,” said WC’s Brian Phelps, who scored 15 points and finished 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. “We had our gameplan on, had everything we planned on doing. We just came out and executed.

“That’s real big for us.”

The Vikings (12-15) advance to the championship game where they will face fourth-seeded Natchez, a 78-63 winner over No. 1 Forest Hill, at 7:30 Friday night.

“It’s tough after winning the 5A state championship and coming back on a sad note like this, especially in the first round of the district,” VHS coach Dellie Robinson said. “But I’ve been there before. We’ve been down before and we’ve always been able to get back up.”

Cedric Parson, who finished with nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks for the Gators, was still in disbelief after the game.

“It’s a real bad feeling,” he said. “We had won state and now we lose so suddenly, I don’t understand. We should be out here ready to play, ready to win.”

On offense, the Vikings stuck with their strength of driving to the goal and drawing fouls. They shot 13 more free throws than Vicksburg, which accounted for eight more points.

They also stayed away from taking 3-pointers. WC attempted only two shots from behind the arc.

“And I took both of them,” said the Vikings’ Seddrick Williams, who scored 13 points.

The Vikings, who never trailed in the game, seemed to have more energy from the start.

Led by a post game from Hunter and Quinton Jenkins, the Vikings took a 14-8 lead after the first quarter. They increased the advantage to 10 early in the second quarter before the Gators woke from their slumber.

The Vikings struggled after the half, but didn’t lose any ground because of the Gators’ 10 turnovers in the third quarter. Overall, Vicksburg committed 29 turnovers to Warren Central’s 16.

WC coach Jesse Johnson said the key for the Vikings’ defense was a change in pressure.

“We tried to come out and change our defense with a surprise type of press, instead of just setting up in a regular press,” Johnson said. “We set up in a modified press, and it seemed to give them a little trouble.”

Entering the fourth down 53-46, Vicksburg quickly cut the advantage to four. But the Vikings broke the Gators’ backs with an 8-0 run that was sealed with a 3 from Williams with 3:43 remaining.

To add a cherry on top of their sweet victory, Phelps and Jenkins each threw down dunks in the closing minutes.

“We really didn’t want to end the season now, so we just played our hearts out,” Phelps said. “The outcome was a win.”