Murrah weathers WC in JPS semifinals|[12/29/2005]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

JACKSON – A bad start to the fourth quarter sank Warren Central against powerful Murrah in the semifinals of the Jackson Public Schools Pepsi Tournament on Wednesday.

The youthful Lady Vikes were hanging in with second-ranked Murrah at Forest Hill. But six trips without a basket to start the fourth quarter sealed WC’s fate in Wednesday morning’s 67-54 loss.

Murrah (13-1), which has won four Class 5A girls state titles in the past six years under Anna Jackson, lost in the JPS finals to upstart Lanier, 51-43. The Lady Vikes will take a 10-4 record into the 2006 portion of their schedule.

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&#8220We went cold early in the fourth quarter and that allowed Murrah to extend the lead,” WC coach Donny Fuller said.

A 15-foot shot by Brittany Willis gave the Lady Vikes their lone lead of the game at 39-38 with 4 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter. A basket off the block by Brandi Simmons, followed by a transition bucket from Tanecka Carey, put Murrah back ahead.

Then 6-foot sophomore center Lasondra Barrett powered in a basket, knocking WC defender Amanda Doyle to the floor in the process. Barrett completed the three-point play for a six-point lead.

WC then missed its first five shots of the fourth quarter to go with a turnover. Fuller was trying to save leading scorer Sha’Kayla Caples, who was sitting with four fouls, but had to reinsert her to jumpstart the offense.

Caples ended the WC drought at the 4:27 mark but by then WC trailed 56-45. The 7-0 Murrah run to start the fourth was keyed by a three-point play by Carey and the last of Barrett’s 21 points.

&#8220I’ve known about Lasondra Barrett since she was 12 years old,” Fuller said. &#8220Her father calls a lot of our games. She’s only a sophomore and that means that she and Caples are going to have a lot of battles over the next few years.”

Caples had 12 points, 10 coming in the first quarter as the Lady Vikes tried to claw back from a 17-4 deficit.

&#8220She just got into foul trouble. She got her second early in the second quarter and then got two real quick to start the third,” Fuller said.

WC, however, managed fairly well through the second and third quarters. Willis, who had 26 points the day before against Provine, had nine of her 13 against Murrah in the second quarter to pull the Lady Vikes to within 34-30 by the half.

Kaci Harris dropped in a couple of baskets and Karnina Bunch hit a 3-pointer to bring WC to within one, setting up Willis’ go-ahead basket in the third quarter.

&#8220Warren Central is a very good team with a very good post player (in Caples),” Jackson said. &#8220We’ve been behind before and we seem to be able to do the things we need to get back in front.”

Warren Central is scheduled to play Port Gibson on Tuesday.