Division champs|Lady Vikes beat Greenville, 62-57

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

JACKSON — Time after time Friday night, Karnina Bunch strolled to the foul line and calmly knocked down free throws. On the other end of the floor, Greenville-Weston’s Breanna Lewis kept knocking down NBA-range 3-pointers with the icy demeanor of an assassin.

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Monday, 7 p.m. – Tupelo at Warren Central

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It was a titanic battle of wills. The only way to settle it was with a third party, and she just happened to be on the side of Bunch and Warren Central.

Sha’Kayla Caples blocked Lewis’ final 3-point try in the closing seconds, one of the few blemishes on the night for the Greenville star, and Warren Central was able to escape with a thrilling 62-57 win and the Division 4-5A tournament championship.

The win sends WC into a Class 5A North State satellite game at home on Monday night against Tupelo. WC will also host the rest of the North State tournament if it gets by the Lady Wave.

“It feels good,” Warren Central coach Donny Fuller said. “We just wanted a little patch for their jackets this week. Next week we go for a little bit bigger patch, and the week after that, we go for the really big patch.”

Warren Central (24-4) went 20-for-22 from the foul line on Friday, with Bunch knocking down 11 of 12. The senior point guard scored a team-high 21 points, and the Lady Vikes needed every bit of it to counter an amazing performance by Lewis.

Greenville’s star hit five 3-pointers in the game, and scored 13 of her game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter. She also grabbed six rebounds. Her big fourth quarter helped the Honey Bees (20-8) rally from a 13-point deficit with about six minutes to play.

After DeDe Eatmon and Dequanna Kilbert each hit a 3-pointer to put WC ahead 48-35 with 6:17 left, Lewis hit a 3-pointer and a layup to key a 9-2 run that got Greenville back in it. Lewis added another 3-pointer with 1:47 to play, and hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt a minute later to get Greenville within two points, 57-55.

“We couldn’t make nothing, and she was making all those 3s. She got them back in it,” Bunch said. “It’s good to watch somebody play like that. Not to play against.”

While Lewis was single-handedly keeping the Honey Bees in it, the Lady Vikes just kept knocking down their free throws and holding Greenville at arm’s length. They made their first 14 attempts, then went 6-for-8 in the last three minutes. Every free throw also seemed to counter a momentum-building play by the Honey Bees.

After Lewis’ three free throws, Ricille Davis split a pair for WC to restore the lead to 58-55. Moments later, Brianna Wright hit two free throws to pull Greenville within a point —  and then Caples hit two at the other end of the floor to once again make it a 3-point game at 60-57 with 21.4 seconds to play.

“The biggest thing was the free throws,” Fuller said. “You can win a lot of ballgames making free throws like that.”

Greenville had one last chance to tie the game, and it seemed almost fitting that it came down to a one-on-one matchup of two of Mississippi’s best players.

With under 10 seconds left, Lewis got the ball in the right corner and fired up the last of her 16 3-point attempts. Caples stepped out to defend, and got just enough of the ball to make it fall well short of the basket. Eatmon grabbed the rebound, was fouled by Lewis, and hit two more free throws to ice the game with 2.8 seconds left. Lewis fouled out on the play.

The block was Caples’ third of the game.

She also had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six steals. Eatmon finished with 10 points for WC.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com.