Ex-academy players key Lady Vikes’ run|[02/23/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

Had Brittany Willis stayed at Porters Chapel Academy after her 8th-grade year, she may have rewritten the Lady Eagles’ scoring records set by one of her sisters.

But when it came down to making a decision that would affect her high school playing career, she chose to leave Porters Chapel for Warren Central, where she played on the 9th-grade team and spent the last three seasons on the varsity squad.

Tonight, along with fellow former Porters Chapel player Kaci Harris, Willis will try to guide Warren Central back to the state tournament for the fourth time in five years. The Lady Vikes (23-8) will battle nationally ranked Murrah (30-1) at Tupelo High at 7:30.

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&#8220We are ready,” said Willis, who is averaging about 12 points per game and is the team’s defensive specialist. &#8220We have to come out and play together. We want to get to the Coliseum and we would love to win both games this weekend, but we need to win one.”

The top three teams from this weekend’s tournament advance to the Class 5A State Tournament at the Big House.

&#8220We have two chances to win one game,” WC coach Donny Fuller said. &#8220I like our chances. Everyone this time of year is good. There are only eight teams in Class 5A still playing basketball, so all of them are good.”

The Lady Vikes will see the state’s top-ranked team and No. 3 team in the state with Murrah and Tupelo. The fourth team, South Panola, upset Olive Branch in the division tournament, then beat Provine to reach North State.

&#8220We know everyone up there is going to be good,” said Harris, the tallest WC starter who has battled injuries throughout her career. &#8220We just want to get to the Coliseum.”

Harris and Willis joined the Lady Vikes in Jackson two seasons ago and the thirst to get back to Jackson is strong. Both still feel the remnants of the Greenville loss at North State in Clinton and the team has used that defeat as a rallying cry throughout this year with &#8220Leave No Doubt” printed across the back of their practice shirts. The reference is to the final seconds of the Greenville loss when the Honey Bees tied the game on a controversial basket either before the buzzer or slightly after, depending on which side is asked.

While WC remembers the past, a more recent past they’d like to forget. Murrah defeated Warren Central 76-31 on Dec. 12 in Jackson.

&#8220That game was lost in the first quarter when the score was 8-4,” Fuller said. &#8220That’s when (Sha’Kayla) Caples picked up her third foul.”

The sophomore, who is averaging about 21 points per game, was held 15 points under her average and only played about seven minutes.

The Lady Mustangs (31-1), led by all-everything LaSondra Barrett, lost their only game of the year to Forest Hill during the Jackson Public Schools Tournament.

In the other semifinal tonight, third-ranked Tupelo (29-2) will battle South Panola. Tupelo has lost to Meridian and Jefferson Davis High out of Montgomery, Ala.