Youth movement bears fruitWarren Central makes drastic improvement

Published 11:58 am Friday, November 26, 2010

In years past, it usually took Warren Central’s boys’ basketball program until near Christmas to get to three wins.

But one day removed from Thanksgiving, the Vikings (3-3) have already reached the plateau and look to be making a serious move upward after dwelling in the Region 4-6A cellar for the past several years.

What’s the difference?

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“It’s all about having the players,” WC coach Jesse Johnson said. “We’re very young and very talented.”

And they’re doing it with youth. Out of the 20-man roster, 11 of them are sophomores or freshman.

A big part of that is the development of sophomore do-it-all guard Kourey Davis, who scored 30 points in a 98-94 double-overtime loss to Crystal Springs on Wednesday. A 6-foot-5 wing player, Davis can play all five positions, hit the 3-pointer, handle the ball in the open court, block shots, rebound and is strong finishing around the basket.

He is averaging 18.4 points per game and 5.4 rebounds this season.

“That’s what we’re looking from him,” Johnson said. “He’s going to lead us offensively and defensively. He’s doing an outstanding job of rebounding from the guard position.”

His emergence has made life easier for the returnees.

Senior guard Jeremy Harper, one of the few returnees, is not having to carry the scoring load like he did last season. He’s averaging 16 points per contest on 49 percent shooting. Louis Carson, a junior, has helped solidify the Vikings at the two-guard position and on the wing, averaging 7.3 points per contest.

Another youngster helping the effort is Gerald Glass, who is 6-foot-5 despite only being a freshman. He leads the team in rebounding and gives the Vikings another long-armed defender down low.

The Vikings like to run and gun. With all of the long arms on defense cloging passing lanes and igniting fast breaks, where the offense is most comfortable, the Vikings are averaging 64.8 points per contest. The Vikings can also hit the 3-ball, hitting 36 percent from beyond the arc.

But as Wednesday night’s loss showed, the Vikings are far from a finished product. They have to improve on defense and learn to execute better in the halfcourt set, where playoff games are won and lost. They tend to make youth-related turnovers.

But the upside is startling. Johnson can already see that the future is very bright for his young squad.

“We’ve got some players, that are young and who are full of talent and hustle,” Johnson said. “They just love the game of basketball and they’re making it really easy.”

The Vikings return to action on Saturday at home against Northwest Rankin.