Lewis’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifts Warren Central over Rebels|[2/16/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Anthony Lewis picked the right time to make his biggest shot of the year. For the Warren Central Vikings, they’re just happy, it wasn’t his last.

Lewis drained a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, lifting the Vikings over Forest Hill 56-55 Tuesday night in a do-or-die Division 6-5A semifinal game at Vicksburg High.

Had Lewis missed, the Vikings’ season would’ve been over. Instead, WC (17-11) will get to lock horns with Vicksburg for the division title Friday at 7:30 p.m. VHS leads the season series 2-1.

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Forest Hill, which saw a 16-point, third quarter lead vanish, ends the year at 16-11.

“I knew I had to shoot it,” said Lewis, who hit the big shot from deep in the right corner. It was the only three-point basket of the game for the Vikings.

“We weren’t ready to lose,” Lewis added. “We had to play real hard on defense and play smart.”

That combination helped WC rally from a huge hole. The Vikings were down 39-23 with four minutes left in the third quarter before starting their comeback.

Warren Central used a stifling, up-tempo defense to whittle the deficit down to 43-34 at the end of the third.

The Rebels then helped matters further by blowing a pair of 2-on-1 breaks which could’ve kept their lead between five and seven points. The Vikings capitalized by running a half-court set, getting the ball to Chico Hunter on the baseline. Hunter scored three times to help pull WC even at 49.

The two teams were still tied at 52 when Forest Hill’s Brandon Brinson hit a driving layup for a 54-52 lead with 1:07 left.

With 38 seconds to go and down two at 55-53, the Vikings saw another chance slip away.

All the Rebels needed to do was get past midcourt and wait for a foul. They did the first part but failed on the second, firing a cross-court pass too high and out of bounds. With 14.5 seconds left, WC had one more chance.

Initially, the Vikings were looking for Hunter who had a game-high 18 points. But he was covered. The ball came to the free throw line to Mario Luckett who couldn’t go any further. He swung it back out and somehow the ball found its way to Lewis in the corner.

“We got it going there in the second half,” Johnson said. “We were coming off the flu and we had four starters sick.”

A key offensively for the Vikings was solving the Rebels’ 1-3-1 zone.

“We saw an opening once we could get the ball past their point guard,” Johnson said.

Jula Pugh had eight for the Vikings while Lewis and Shaun Walker had seven each.