Lady Vikes ready for demanding week|[6/21/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finding five new starters and breaking in an entirely new rotation was a breeze compared to the challenge Donny Fuller faces this week with his Warren Central girls’ summer team – keeping his players standing.

Starting with a pair of summer league games on Monday and culminating in the State Games tournament this weekend in Meridian, the Lady Vikes will play at least seven games – and possibly as many as nine – in six days.

“The good thing is, tonight they’ll only play 10 minutes,” Fuller, WC’s longtime coach, said Monday. “Then we’ll go to Meridian and tell them to get as much rest as they can and pump as much Gatorade into them as you can.”

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Fuller uses the summer to tinker with his substitution patterns and find the right combination of players for certain situations. This year, more than most, he’s had to do plenty of experimenting.

Warren Central lost all five starters and seven of its top nine players after reaching the Class 5A semifinals in March. The next generation of Lady Vikes have filled in admirably, going 9-7 this summer, but still have a lot of work to do and awfully big shoes to fill, Fuller said.

“We’re just working to get better. We’ve got a lot of people to replace,” he said. “You don’t graduate five starters and seven of your top nine and not be in a rebuilding state.”

The State Games will be a final exam of sorts for the WC summer team. Fuller said it’s one of two tournaments, along with the state AAU tourney, that he manages like a regular game.

This weekend, he’ll get a chance to see how his players respond to the different style of ball.

Two of the teams in their pool, Rosa Fort and Southeast Lauderdale, advanced to the Class 3A semifinals last season. Columbia and Sebastopol reached the Class 3A and Class 1A South State tournaments, respectively, and Meridian will also field a team in WC’s pool.

Fuller acknowledged the tall task of winning such a tough pool, but was still optimistic.

“You always go over there with the attitude of you want to win your pool and medal,” Fuller said.