Mustangs trample WC

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 8, 2004

Tranyce Peoples, above, drives to the basket past Murrah’s Diamond Rogers, background, in the second half of the Lady Vikes’ 64-47 loss to Murrah in the Class 5A State Tournamnet quarterfinals on Friday.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[3/6/04]JACKSON The new blue shirt and gold basketball cufflinks Warren Central coach Donny Fuller bought for the Class 5A state championship game will stay in the closet for at least one more season.

In a game marked by lethargic passes, inconsistent shooting and a Murrah team that took advantage of every possible opportunity, the Lady Vikes bowed out of the Class 5A State Tournament with a 64-47 loss to the defending state champion Lady Mustangs.

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“They outrebounded us, outshot us, and our shots just weren’t falling,” WC junior guard Saleda Montgomery said. “We wanted this game so bad, but we did things we normally don’t do.”

The Lady Vikes turned the ball over 19 times and shot 31 percent from the field. They also converted a putrid 2 of 13 3-point attempts.

“It wasn’t a typical Warren Central team,” said Fuller, making his first appearance in the Coliseum since the 1995-96 season. “The one thing that worried me the most was the fact that Murrah had been here before and we hadn’t.”

The veteran coach tried everything possible to calm his players. Before the game, he turned to a scene from the classic basketball movie “Hoosiers.”

In the movie, when the underdogs made it to the state championship game in a big arena, the coach measured the goal from rim to floor. He then measured the distance from the goal to the free throw line proving the dimensions were the same as their high school gym. Fuller did the same.

He also arrived 90 minutes before the game started to allow his players time to get acclimated to the big arena.

“We did the Hoosiers thing and got here early,” Fuller said. “I’m proud of our kids. A guy told me last night that there’s a lot of people that wish it was them playing today.”

Tranyce Peoples led WC with 17 points and Cookie Johnson scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

“I thought our defense played well against them,” said Murrah coach Anna Jackson who is in pursuit of her sixth state championship in eight years. “I thought our matchup defense did a good job forcing turnovers.”

Diamond Rogers scored 15 of her game high 24 points in the second quarter for Murrah. Natasha Taylor netted 14, Shaneka Jones scored 12 and Margaree King scored 10.

Rogers’ strong second quarter took a close game and helped the Lady Mustangs steadily pull away. A pair of Rogers’ free throws midway through the second quarter gave Murrah a 29-17 lead, and took a 38-25 lead into halftime.

“We had drive, but I think Murrah had more,” said Ebon Williams, who had five points. “They took care of their business and we didn’t.”

Two minutes into the third quarter, Murrah converted a pair of WC turnovers into four straight points and a 44-27 lead and a spirited timeout by the Lady Vikes.

“I was just trying to motivate them,” Fuller said. “I don’t think we were playing the way we were capable of playing.”

WC made no headway, and Murrah extended the lead to 55-34 at the end of the third quarter. The Lady Vikes went the first five minutes of the fourth quarter without scoring a point.

“When we looked up at the scoreboard and saw we were down double digits, I think we gave up a little bit,” Montgomery said.

WC will return Montgomery and Johnson next season and will have seven seniors. Williams, Peoples, Jessica Lacey and guard Dorothy Jenkins will graduate.

“I’m proud we made it here and I’m proud of this team,” said Peoples, who helped the team win the Division 6-5A Tournament, then finish runner-up in South State. “We did a good job getting here and we wanted to win.”

Fuller said with the amount of returning juniors, WC will be a force to be reckoned with next season.

“We took it up a level from last year and I want to take it up another level next year,” Fuller said.

Even with the returning talent, Fuller said there will be a void.

“Our seniors were a great group of leaders,” Fuller said. “They did a great job getting us to this level.

“I challenged our younger kids not to just get us back, but to get us further. I want the gold ball. I’m greedy, I want it all.”