WC finds comfort on the boards|[3/4/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 4, 2005

JACKSON – The comfort zone came quickly for Warren Central in its State 5A Tournament game against Clinton.

The Lady Vikes (25-8) found their offensive rhythm early, hitting both long-range and mid-range shots. When coach Donny Fuller’s team did miss, it usually beat the much-taller Lady Arrows team to the ball for the offensive rebound.

Warren Central posted a dominating 34-21 edge on the boards, with at least 11 coming on the offensive end. It added up to a comfortable 57-45 win for the Lady Vikes.

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Clinton never led. Cookie Johnson’s 3-pointer keyed a 10-2 spurt to open the game. It was an uphill battle for the Lady Arrows from then on.

Not only did Clinton (29-6) have to make do without its top post player in 6-foot-2 junior Katorra Lewis, they also had to contend with a tough 1-2-2 press from the Lady Vikes. Then there was the matter of the rebounding, even though, Clinton still had a 6-3 post player in Sasha Goodlett and 5-11 Ryan Herd.

“Our plan was to get a booty on somebody and get the rebound,” said Johnson, a University of New Orleans signee. “Even without Lewis, we pretty much stayed with that plan.”

Clinton had beaten WC 66-65 in overtime at Clinton in a mid-January game. It was a game that the Lady Vikes felt got away.

“We were pretty well motivated up,” said WC’s Shondalyn Rogers who came off the bench to score six quick points, extending the Lady Vikes’ lead to 18-8.

“We were ready to go out and take it to them,” added guard Brittany Banks.

The Lady Vikes kept coming. Clinton had seven turnovers against WC’s press in the first 12 minutes.

“We made one adjustment in our press and that was to keep No. 10 (Sheena Johnson) from going coast to coast,” Fuller said.

Banks had the assignment of taking on the hard-driving Johnson.

“I just had to play my defense,” Banks said.

“We just couldn’t let her go down the middle of the court,” added junior Amanda Doyle.

On the other end, the Lady Vikes kept hitting, making their eighth field goal from at least 12 feet out. Things were going so well that even Kaci Harris threw one in from the free throw line for a 36-22 lead.

WC cooled off in the third quarter, going just 4-for-19, but Clinton still couldn’t dent the lead much. It was 47-37 after three quarters.

“We know Clinton was short-handed without Lewis,” Fuller said. “We had heard she had messed up her ankle, but I didn’t believe it until I saw she wasn’t dressed.

“Normally, they like to play all three of those big ones at the same time with No. 15 (Herd) playing more on the outside.

“They were still big, but we just out-quicked them to the boards,” Fuller added.

Next up for the Lady Vikes will be 11-time state champion Harrison Central. The two schools have quite a history in 5A girls basketball annals.

“Five times Warren Central and Harrison Central have played against each for the 5A state final. I don’t know of any other schools having played that many times,” Fuller said.