WC duo take top honors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 27, 2004

St. Aloysius senior Kyle Richards, left, earned The Vicksburg Post’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He is joined by, clockwise, Girls Players of the Year Cookie Johnson of Warren Central, Boys Coach of the Year Jesse Johnson of Warren Central, and Girls Coach of the Year Donny Fuller of WC. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[4/25/04]In the PBS children’s series, Cookie Monster eats the sweet treats with speed, precision and passion.

Warren Central’s Cookie Monster does the same thing, only instead of cookies, she feasts on opponents’ defenses.

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Cookie Johnson, a junior and last season’s The Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, repeated as the county’s best player, and her coach reeled in yet another award.

“She does so much for us on both ends of the floor,” said Warren Central coach Donny Fuller, who repeated as girls basketball coach of the year. “She’s our leading scorer, but she also leads us in rebounds, steals and charges taken. She does a lot of little things that make the players around her better.”

While Johnson was making life miserable for opponents, Fuller led his team through a tough schedule and into the Mississippi Coliseum for the state tournament.

The Lady Vikes (23-10) lost seven games to teams ranked in the end-of-the-season poll. The team won the Division 6-5A championship, then beat Gulfport in the South State Tournament to reach the Big House.

It was a quick trip, though, as the Lady Vikes were beaten by Murrah in the state quarterfinals.

“It felt good to get there,” said the soft-spoken Johnson, who was nicknamed Cookie by her grandmother years ago. “I know coach Fuller wanted to get there, because he hadn’t been there in a long time.”

Johnson averaged nearly 14 points and 10 rebounds per game. Despite her 5-foot, 10-inch frame, she routinely outrebounded opponents.

The junior made all-Division 6-5A, All-South State and All-State in Class 5A. In July, she will play in the Mississippi North/South All-Star basketball game.

“She went up against bigger players night in and night out, and she gets the job done,” Fuller said. “She does a lot of things for us.”

One of those will be to lead the Lady Vikes back to the Coliseum.

WC had last reached the Coliseum in the 1995-96 season. Four starters return from this year’s bunch making a return visit a very good possibility.

“We have to continue to work hard through the offseason,” Johnson said. “It should be a tough year.”

Like he usually does, Fuller will pepper his schedule with top-caliber talent. His team beat Provine and Gulfport twice en route to the 23 wins last season.

“We will continue to play a difficult schedule, because that is what makes you better,” Fuller said. “Seven of our 10 losses were to teams that ended the season ranked. I’ll say this, at the end of the season, I would rather be in the big round building on High Street with 10 losses than at home with two.”