Lady Vikes start road to Coliseum|Prep basketball playoffs
Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009
Toward the end of Thursday’s practice, Warren Central coach Donny Fuller reminded his charges of their top goal when they first laced up their hi-tops just a few months earlier.
Win a state championship.
The road to state begins Tuesday afternoon as the top-seeded Lady Vikes battle No. 4 seed and host Provine at 4 p.m. in the Division 4-5A tournament. On the boys’ side, the third-seeded Vikings battle No. 2 seed Provine at 5:30 p.m..
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4 p.m. – WC vs. Provine (G)
5:30 p.m. – WC vs. Provine (B)
“In our division, there is a lot of good teams and the good news is that we’re playing a team that hasn’t won a division game,” Fuller said. “But the bad news is — we’ve got to play Provine on their floor.”
The Lady Vikes can have the same sort of advantage if they take care of business in Jackson. Warren Central will host the North State tournament, as long as it gets there.
“If we can win two, we can host the North State tournament and that’s what we want,” Fuller said. “We want to be playing on our home floor, especially since we haven’t been beat here.”
Warren Central locked up the top seed in the tournament a few weeks ago and comes into it limping a bit, especially in the frontcourt.
Forward Ricille Davis and center Bailey Anderton missed most of Friday’s regular-season finale against Murrah with sprained ankles. However, both seniors will be ready to go on Tuesday.
As the top seed, Fuller and the Lady Vikes got to choose when they played. He picked the early game, based on experience and his own preference.
“I figured the best way to take the crowd out of it is to play at 4 o’clock,” Fuller said. “Like I’ve always said, if you win, you stay and scout. If you lose, you go home and start getting ready for next year.”
The Lady Rams won’t be a pushover, as both regular-season meetings with WC were close. The Lady Vikes won 66-56 at home on Jan. 6, and 74-62 in Jackson on Jan. 20.
Last year, Provine ended Warren Central’s season in the division tournament.
Sha’Kayla Caples leads the Lady Vikes (22-3) in nearly every offensive and defensive category. Her average of 25.6 points per contest is up two from last season and she is shooting better, at 55 percent.
One key to the Lady Vikes’ success has been the emergence of point guard Karnina Bunch as a legitimate scoring threat in her own right (16.2 points per game). When defenses cheat over to clog Caples’ driving lanes on the wing, Bunch finds open venues to either create a shot for herself or her teammates. She’s averaging four assists per contest.
Fuller believes that his club is one of the best in the state. Now it’s time to prove it.
“You’ve got to get out of district,” Fuller said. “Then I tell them ‘just get to that big round building (the Mississippi Coliseum) on High Street and anything can happen.’ The best team on paper doesn’t always win and I think we’re one of the best teams in the state. Now we’ve got to prove it.”
Contact Steve Wilson at email@example.com.