Lady Vikes head to State Games again|[6/21/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Monday night’s Central Mississippi Basketball League game was a little bit different for coach Donny Fuller’s Warren Central Lady Vikes.

Unlike previous CMBL match-ups, Fuller used the game against MPSA Overall Champ Jackson Prep more as a tune-up for this week’s State Games of Mississippi.

&#8220Most of the time in our league games, I let our first five play five minutes and then I send in another five. The (end) result is not a big deal,” Fuller said. &#8220But this game I changed some combinations and mixed things up more because we’re about to play in the State Games. I want us to be prepared for some various situations.”

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Playing in the Meridian-based State Games has become a staple of the Lady Vikes’ summer program. Fuller likes to use the four-day, Olympic style basketball tournament as a measuring stick.

&#8220Other than Meridian High, we’re the only team to have been to every one of the State Games. They’ve got teams in their own county that have missed a few.

&#8220I like it because it’s at the end of our summer work and it’s good competition for us,” Fuller said.

&#8220It’s become routine for Donny,” said State Games Basketball Director Ernie Watson who is the boys coach at Meridian High. &#8220We know we can count on him because this is his 15th straight year. But he also knows he’s going to be playing at MCC and where he’s going to stay in Meridian.”

WC begins play Thursday against Northeast Lauderdale at the Ivy Sports Center on the campus of Meridian Community College.

&#8220Every year we come, we play our games at MCC,” Fuller said. MCC’s facility is the only one of the four basketball venues that is air conditioned.

Teams that win the gold medal at the State Games tend to be playing for a state title the following year. Last year, Southeast Lauderdale won the gold medal and nine months later, the Lady Tigers won the Class 3A State Championship.

&#8220Southeast beat us in the pool play and then went on to win the gold medal,” Fuller said.

In 2003, the Lady Vikes advanced to the gold medal game before falling against 3A power Choctaw Central. The Lady Warriors went on to win the next two state titles.

This year there are 17 teams in the field. WC has been put into another tough pool with defending champ Southeast Lauderdale, Columbia, Quitman, Heidelberg and Northeast Lauderdale. Quitman is led by former Vicksburg High coach Mike Coleman.

Judging by their strong performance Monday, a 63-37 win over Prep, the Lady Vikes could make a good showing this week.

&#8220We go into the State Games looking more to win,” Fuller said. &#8220We’ll still play everybody, but we’ll also play to win the game.”

Against Prep, returning Vicksburg Post Player of the Year Sha’Kayla Caples had 12 points and Kaci Harris, a 5-10 forward, dropped in 11, including three baskets from at least 16 feet.

Rising senior Brittany Willis, who attended a camp at Louisiana Tech, scored nine. Willis will play in the North/South Coca Cola All-Star game in July.

With Monday’s win, WC moved to 5-2 in league play.

&#8220We’ve got a chance to finish with a No. 2 seed for the league tournament that begins next week,” Fuller said.