End of the road|Tupelo ousts Warren Central in first round

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The lights went out in the Warren Central gym. And Warren Central coach Donny Fuller sat in the stands, a stunned man, trying to find an answer for why the dream season for his Lady Vikes ended far too soon.

There were tears as senior leaders Bailey Anderton, Dequanna Kilbert, Karnina Bunch and Sha’Kayla Caples played their final game as Lady Vikes. There were looks of shock as they dwelled on a goal that will forever remained unfulfilled.

But there were no answers to be found in the dim shadows on the silent floor, as another season ended in disappointment.

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Warren Central was derailed 52-46 by visiting Tupelo in the Class 5A satellite game and it was a poor-shooting third quarter, clutch work at the free throw stripe by Tupelo and some great defense on Caples that ended the Lady Vikes’ season.

The key for throwing the Lady Vikes out of their rhythm was the Golden Wave’s ingenious defense of Caples, who was held to 14 points, 11 below her season average. Tupelo defended her with a smaller, quicker guard at her back and brought over a post player to front her in the blocks. Caples found that even getting the ball was a chore every trip up the court.

“We were really motivated,” Tupelo coach Stephanie Murphy said. “We knew it was one and done for us. We felt like if we did the job on Caples and we did the job on the offensive end, we had a shot at winning. We wanted to make her work for everything.”

Tupelo forward Amber Jackson scored a game-high 21 points and led the Golden Wave at the free throw line, hitting 8-of-10 from the stripe in the final stanza. The Golden Wave hit 13 of 16 from the free throw line in the fourth.

It was an especially disappointing ending for the Bunch- Caples tandem. Bunch finished her final game with 13 points.

“We’re really going to miss those two kids. You don’t replace a Caples and a Bunch,” Fuller said. “We rode those two kids as much as we could ride any two kids around. I think Caples is the best player I’ve ever coached.”

Tupelo outscored Warren Central 17-4 in the pivotal third quarter and held a nine-point lead at 37-28 going into the fourth.

But Warren Central (24-5) managed to mount an assault. Caples got a putback, point guard Karnina Bunch drilled a 3-pointer and DeDe Eatmon kissed an off-balance jumper off the glass to cut the lead to 37-35.

Treneisha Trice turned a huge offensive board into a layup, Jackson converted five out of six tries at the free throw line and Courtney Philpot hit a couple more to put Tupelo back on top.

Then Kilbert drilled a huge 3-pointer with three minutes left to slice the deficit to four.

Tupelo’s Maggie McFerrin hit the front end of a one-and-one and the crowd could sense the rally forming. Caples sliced through the Golden Wave defense for an off-balance layup and hit a short jumper to cut the lead to one.

But Trice was fouled and she calmly went to the line and drilled both with 25 seconds remaining. WC had one last good look, as Bunch had a good look at a 3-pointer with 18.5 left, but the shot caromed off the iron and Jackson corralled the rebound. She hit 2 of 3 from the line to ice the game.


Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@vicksburgpost.com