‘Fuller’s Babies’ exceeding early-season expectations|[12/25/2005]
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Warren Central’s girls basketball team celebrated Christmas together on Thursday morning, exchanging gifts, laughing, joking and preparing for Monday’s Jackson Public Schools Tournament.
The team had reason to be in the holiday spirit, having jumped out to an improbable 8-3 record behind one senior, two juniors and two that just last year were playing on the eighth-grade team. The top six scorers are gone from last year’s team, but the Lady Vikes keep finding a way to win games.
“We’ve accomplished more than I thought we would have accomplished at this time of the year,” said WC coach Donny Fuler, who will be shooting for his 300th career victory at Warren Central on Monday when the Lady Vikes play Bailey at 4 p.m. at Forest Hill in the opening round of the JPS Tournament.
“The good thing is that we are still getting better and I hope we continue to get better.”
Warren Central is unbaten against non-Jackson teams, have beaten archrival Vicksburg by 10 points in a game that wasn’t nearly that close, and is coming off a 59-51 win over Harrison Central, the most successful basketball program in Mississippi girls hoops history.
“They didn’t have their big girl from last year, but they were still a good team,” said Amanda Doyle, a defensive specialist last year and the team’s only senior. “We did what we had to to win the game.”
The group dubbed “Fuller Babies” because of their lack of playing time, will next take on a field loaded with season state tournament teams. The Lady Vikes will be the only local team playing this week.
“It’s going to be a tough tournament because Callaway and Wingfield have already beaten us,” freshman point guard Karnina Bunch said. “We need to keep working hard and we’ll be all right.”
Bunch and fellow freshman Sha’Kayla Caples were promoted straight from the 8th-grade team and play two of the most pivotal positons on the court.
Bunch runs the show from her guard spot and Caples leads the team in scoring and rebounding.
“They’ve done a good job for us,” Fuller said. “We won’t move one up unless they are good enough to start for us.”
Juniors Shantta Taylor and Brittany Willis round out the starting five. Willis saw the most time among this year’s underclassmen.
If Warren Central can get by Bailey in Monday’s JPS opener, the team would then play either Provine or Pearl on Tuesday. A Wednesday showdown with Murrah in the tournament semifinals is a strong possibility.
Fuller knows, though, that his team hasn’t accomplished anything yet. As practice Thursday came to a close, he called up Cookie Johnson and Shondalyn Rogers, last year’s leading scorers.
“These two got us to the Coliseum last year,” he said. “And I want to go back.”
Vicksburg High will take some time off after playing in the Ranger Roundup, which conclude Friday in Raymond.
“We’ll be back on Monday,” said VHS boys coach Dellie C. Robinson after the Gators were trounced by Hinds 73-55 on Thursday and won the consolation game on Friday. “We really need a week to work on some things.”
Coach Barbara Hartzog’s Missy Gators, after winning Friday’s championship game, will be off until Wednesday.
“We’ll practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 a.m,” she said.