Big House bummer: Four hit double figures in Brandon’s 59-53 state tournament victory|[03/03/07]
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2007
CLASS 5A STATE TOURNAMENT: BRANDON 59, WARREN CENTRAL 53
JACKSON – Warren Central’s stay in the Big House lasted about as long as the round trip bus ride.
Zorial Williams came off the bench to score 14 points and lead four Brandon Lady Bulldogs (24-11) in double figures in a 59-53 victory in the first round of the Class 5A State Tournament.
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Williams, a wide presence underneath the basket, scored all of her points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds, six of them offensive.
“She does not get a lot of press, but she has been consistent all year,” said first-year Brandon coach Paul Hayden, who will now lead his team against nationally ranked Murrah in the state semifinals.
Hayden said the first time he saw Williams, then-coach Linda Dear threw her out of practice for not hustling.
“She saw some time last year,” Hayden said. “But after the season was over, she came to me and said, ‘coach, I’m gonna start next year.’”
Kiana McCarty and Jasmyne Sanders each scored 11 points in the win, while Joncyee Sanders scored 9 of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Joncyee Sanders’ offensive output came at the most opportune time for Brandon. Warren Central, which trailed by three going into the fourth quarter, went into a press and caused three straight turnovers.
The Lady Vikes only converted one of those chances into points. It was the same story most of the day as Warren Central (24-10) would slice the lead to a point or two, but could never get over the hurdle.
“I felt like if we could ever get the lead, we would be OK,” said Warren Central coach Donny Fuller, who has led the Lady Vikes to the Big House in four of the last five years. “We had some opportunities. We had some baskets that we normally hit that didn’t fall for us and we missed a few free throws from people who don’t normally miss.”
Warren Central hit 2 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter. Sha’Kayla Caples led all scorers with 19 points and fellow sophomore Karnina Bunch scored 13, including three 3-pointers.
“We should have fought harder to get back in the game,” Bunch said. “I thought we could have played better at the end.”
Trailing 55-52 with less than a minute to play, Warren Central had a chance to tie, but a 3-pointer missed badly and Brandon proceeded to eat up clock until Kayla Bedford was fouled and hit one of two shots. After the second miss, Williams grabbed two straight offensive rebounds and consequently missed two shots.
Caples was fouled and missed a free throw with eight seconds to play. Williams hit a free throw and Kaci Harris hit one free throw for Warren Central before Williams scored the final basket as the buzzer sounded.
“I knew at the beginning of the season that we had the ability to get here, but a lot of things would have to come into play,” said Hayden, who spent four seasons as the girls and boys coach at St. Aloysius. “We had so many injuries early, my main concern was just keeping people healthy.
Warren Central, meanwhile, will begin preparing for the loss of senior starters Brittany Willis, Harris and Shantta Taylor. WC will return the point guard Bunch and Caples, who averaged more than 20 points per game.
“They’ve done such a good job for us,” Fuller said of the seniors. “We asked Shantta to play out of position last year and Willis has been the team leader. Kaci has been through some tough physical situations last year after her car wreck.
“I can’t tell you how much we are gonna miss those kids.”