Lady Vikes rally past Vicksburg|[2/6/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2005

Whatever funk Warren Central was in for most of the week finally disappeared Saturday afternoon.

After a loss to Forest Hill on Tuesday, the Lady Vikes were dominated for a half by archrival Vicksburg on Saturday and fell behind by 13 points early in the second half. WC pulled together after that, though, outscoring the Missy Gators 37-19 in the last two quarters to claim a 55-47 victory.

Cookie Johnson scored 13 points and Saleda Montgomery added 12 for the Lady Vikes (19-6, 5-1 Division 6-5A). Rachel Jenkins paced Vicksburg (13-15, 1-5) with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Tiffany Williams scored 12 points and Kendra Sims netted 11.

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“I’m hoping this was an attitude adjustment,” WC coach Donny Fuller said. “I said all along the two games this week scared me to death because we had won the Red Carpet, which was a big win, and then we had to turn around and play both of these games which really, as far as the seeding for the division tournament, didn’t mean anything to us.”

The first half Saturday looked like a continuation of the Forest Hill game for WC. The Lady Vikes couldn’t hit a shot, were outrebounded 22-10 by the Missy Gators, and trailed 28-18 at halftime. WC’s first seven possessions resulted in five missed shots, two turnovers and no offensive rebounds.

“Rachel was just a warrior on the boards,” VHS coach Mike Coleman said of Jenkins, who had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half. “Rachel, Kristin (Ellis) and Jennifer (Hunter) got every rebound that came off.”

That all changed in the third quarter. After VHS scored the first three points to go ahead 31-18, WC went on a 15-2 run to tie it at 33. Montgomery knotted the game with a pair of free throws, then gave the Lady Vikes their first lead with a 3-pointer with 1:34 to go in the quarter.

Suddenly, Vicksburg couldn’t find an answer for WC’s press and the rebounds that had come so easily in the first half were falling into the Lady Vikes’ hands.

“I thought the first half we stood around too much, we didn’t cut very hard, we didn’t go to the boards, we just didn’t play,” Fuller said. “We had a little attitude adjustment at halftime, and the second half we cut harder, we hit some shots and when we hit some shots we were able to get in our press and cause some turnovers.”

WC took the lead for good with a little over three minutes to play. A layup by Amanda Doyle and another 3-pointer by Montgomery gave WC a 45-43 lead and triggered a 9-3 run. A 3-pointer by Johnson – WC’s ninth trey of the game – made it 50-44 with just under two minutes to play and all but sealed Vicksburg’s fate.

The Missy Gators were just 5-for-25 from the field in the second half, and couldn’t hit enough shots down the stretch to hang with Warren Central.

Coleman was disappointed with the outcome, but happy with the improvement his team showed against WC. In their first meeting on Jan. 22, Warren Central beat Vicksburg 70-45. The teams will meet once more, in the first round of the Division 6-5A tournament Feb. 15 at VHS.

“It feels better than getting beat by 25 points, I promise you that,” Coleman joked.

(B) Vicksburg 55, WC 51

The Vicksburg Gators showed Saturday why no one wants to meet up with them in the first round of the Division 6-5A tournament.

The Gators got 25 points from their bench, shot 62 percent for the game, and survived a late charge by Warren Central to earn their first division win of the season.

Sederick Williams led VHS (13-15, 1-5) with 13 points, Fred Thomas added 11, and Edwin Gaskin grabbed nine rebounds. Reserves Cornelius Qualls, Brandon Harper and Jonathan Phelps had seven, eight and nine points, respectively.

Chico Hunter scored 14 for WC (15-10, 3-3), and Shaun Walker added 12.

“It’s been such a long time coming, it’s certainly good to know we can at least win a basketball game in our district,” laughed VHS coach Dellie C. Robinson, whose team will host the division tournament beginning Feb. 15. “And being the first one, and against our rival, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Vicksburg led 24-22 at halftime, but pulled away late in the third quarter with a 9-2 run. The surge gave the Gators their first double-digit lead, 40-27, heading into the fourth.

Warren Central was 2-for-8 from the field in the third quarter and managed only five points.

Warren Central used an 8-0 run early in the fourth to pull within five points, 42-37, but couldn’t get any closer. Vicksburg broke the Vikings’ press for a series of transition baskets and took a 55-45 lead before Walker hit a pair of late 3s – including one at the buzzer – to make the final closer than the flow of the game suggested.

“We had every opportunity to win the game, and we squandered all of them,” WC coach Jesse Johnson said. “All year I’ve said we have two entirely different teams. Every night that good teams shows up, we beat people, and very night that unknown team shows up, we lose. And that was the unknown team.”