Hancock coldcocks Lady Vikes

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 1, 2004

WC advances to South State final

[2/28/04]KILN For 30 minutes, Gulfport had Warren Central on the ropes in the opening round of the Class 5A South State playoffs at Hawk Arena.

In two minutes, the Lady Admirals saw any hopes of reaching the finals disappear as the Lady Vikes pulled out a 74-68 win.

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By virtue of the win, Warren Central (23-8) will advance to the state tournament, while the Lady Admirals (20-10) must beat Moss Point to advance to next week’s state tournament in Jackson. The Lady Vikes will play Hancock in the finals to determine the top seed.

“Our ticket is stamped to the big round building on High Street,” said WC coach Donny Fuller, whose team will be making its first appearance in the state tournament since 1995.

For Gulfport, a chance to play for the South State title wilted away in the final 1:54.

“Had we taken care of business in the first half by playing more aggressive, we wouldn’t have had to worry about the end of the game,” Gulfport coach Walter Walker said. “We missed too many layups and gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half and that came back to haunt us.

“If we played with more aggression, we would have been in control of the game.”

But for Gulfport, the game didn’t end at the two minute mark of the fourth quarter.

For Warren Central, a 6-0 run sealed the deal.

After a short jumper by Brittany Reese tied the game at 68-68, Warren Central called a time out and designed a final plan that would get the ball in the hands of senior center Ebon Williams, who scored 21 points. But it was her final four points that keyed the Lady Vikes.

With 1:38 left, she banked in a shot for a 70-68 lead. Following a charge call on Admirals point guard Gail Weary with 47 seconds left, Saleda Montgomery scored on a lay up to give Warren Central a 72-68 lead. After another Gulfport turnover, Williams was able to convert two of four free throws to ice the game.

“Ebon had some keys baskets and free throws down the stretch,'” Fuller said. “It was the first game that she played up to her ability.

“We played Gulfport three weeks ago at our place and won 66-60, so I knew it was going to be a tough game. They have size and quickness. In the end, I think they got tired and we were able to stop No. 5 (Weary) from driving to the basket.”

In the first quarter, Gulfport and Warren Central were tied six times before the Lady Vikes edged out an 18-16 lead. In the first, Williams paced Warren Central with six points, including two put-backs off missed shots.

The Lady Vikes then extended their lead to 23-18 in the first 34 seconds of the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Ashley Vinzant and a basket by Brittany Banks off a steal on the inbound pass.

From that point on, the Lady Admirals outscored Warren Central 16-9 to take a 32-31 lead at the break. In the second quarter, Weary poured in seven points to finish the half with 13. For the game, Weary had 20.

“What we have to do is regroup ad come back and give it another try,'” Walker said. “This one is over with.