Warren County’s rivalry returnsArkoful ruled ineligible by MHSAA after transferring to Warren Central

Published 11:43 am Thursday, December 6, 2012

The annual Warren County grudge match between the Vicksburg Missy Gators and Warren Central Lady Vikes took an odd turn this week when 2012 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, Ama Arkoful, transferred from Vicksburg to Warren Central.

Arkoful, a sophomore guard, is enrolled at Warren Central, but she was ruled ineligible by the Mississipppi High School Activities Association Wednesday, said MHSAA associate director for athletics Rickey Neaves.

Transfers are required to sit out a calendar year before they’re allowed to play sports, but Arkoful has an appeal of her waiver with the MHSAA set for Tuesday. If the MHSAA doesn’t approve her waiver, she won’t be eligible until Nov. 29.

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WC assistant coach Troy Henegan said even if Arkoful had been eligible, she likely wouldn’t have played anyway because of a lack of practice time with her new team.

Henegan is serving as WC’s head coach while Jackie Martin-Brown is on medical leave.

Arkoful averaged 17.1 points and 3.6 assists per game last season.

Both Henegan and Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog were hopeful their players’ focus this week would remain on an important game for both teams. It’s the division opener for both squads, and both are in need of a win after recent slumps.

“The most important thing is, it’s a district game, and it’s the first district game of the year,” said Hartzog, whose team will also host Greenville-Weston in a division game next week. “It just helps to get the first two district games under our belt. We’ve got to take care of business. That is the main thing.”

Vicksburg (4-5) snapped a three-game losing streak by beating South Delta 59-36 last Friday — its first game without Arkoful. During the losing streak, the Missy Gators didn’t have a game where more than one player scored in double figures. Against South Delta, they had three.

“We hurt ourselves a lot. We need to learn to take care of the basketball, rebound and play together as a team,” Hartzog said. “We did a lot better against South Delta.”

Warren Central (6-2), meanwhile, lost two straight games after a 5-0 start, then rebounded to beat Brookhaven on Tuesday. Leading scorer Shae Bracey sat out the losses to Murrah and Hattiesburg because of an illness, and the Lady Vikes clearly missed her inside presence. She’s expected to play Saturday.

Bracey is averaging 19.4 points and seven rebounds per game, and the Lady Vikes averaged 51.4 points in their first five wins. In the two losses, they scored a total of 58 points.

“Shae is averaging 19 points, so that’s a loss. We need somebody to step up and fill her shoes. It doesn’t have to be one person,” Henegan said.

Henegan added that he felt the Lady Vikes lost their way against Murrah and Hattiesburg.

“We got a little ahead of ourselves, being 5-0,” he said. “The winning aspect of it, we’ve got to get used to. We have to focus on the little things that got us there.”

If you go

Warren Central at Vicksburg

Saturday, 1 p.m.

Admission: $4