Vikings make big changes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2009

Change is in the air at Warren Central.

For the first time in 17 seasons, Donny Fuller won’t be on the bench. And for the first time in four years, the Lady Vikes won’t have a go-to superstar in the lineup.

As Jackie Martin-Glass takes over as WC’s coach, she’s undergoing some changes as well. No longer can she be the assistant coach that players like. She’s had to become the bad guy, laying down the law as she puts her stamp on the program.

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“I had to suspend several players for our first game,” Martin-Glass said. “That was a huge step for me. Discipline, attitude and character are more important than winning right now.”

Martin-Glass and the Lady Vikes are hoping all the changes lead to more of the same, in some respects. The team went 24-5 and won the Division 6-5A championship last season before getting knocked out by Tupelo in the North State satellite game.

Two starters — Ricille Davis and Deshaundra Eatmon — and several key reserves return from that squad. They’ll have work to do to replace point guard Karnina Bunch and four-time Vicksburg Post player of the year Sha’Kayla Caples. Only two other seniors from last year’s team are gone, though, and Martin-Glass feels a more team-oriented approach can replace the reliance on two or three star players.

Davis averaged 7.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season, while Eatmon averaged 5.3 points.

“We lost some talent, but I think we can have a great team. Anybody can be a star on any night,” Martin-Glass said.

On the boys’ side, Jesse Johnson is also hoping a few changes make his team better as he enters his seventh season as head coach. This year’s WC squad will be a little smaller than last year’s which should suit the up-tempo style Johnson prefers.

“This year we’ve got guys that are 6-3 and 180 pounds instead of 220. They can get up and down the floor better,” Johnson said. “We’re undersized, but we’re going to use that to our advantage by getting up and down the floor.”

Last year’s team had its moments, but stumbled to a 5-23 record and lost in the first round of the division tournament to eventual Class 5A champion Provine.

This year offers a fresh start of sorts, although that poses a big problem. Only four players return from last season and one of those is junior forward John Gustavis, a football player. Gustavis is one of eight players on the basketball roster who will be unavailable until football season ends. For Saturday’s season-opening classic game at Ocean Springs, Johnson will only have eight players to call on.

“This is the first year we’ve run into the problem of having to depend on so many football players,” Johnson said.

Contact Ernest Bowker at