Lady Vikes squeak past Missy Gators

Published 12:13 am Sunday, December 9, 2012

If you did not get to Vicksburg High’s Gym by noon, you were left out. A packed house saw rivals Warren Central and Vicksburg battle to the end in a varsity girls contest.

In the final minute, Warren Central forward Denitra Bracey made an assist and a free throw to deliver a thrilling, 40-39 win for the Lady Vikes in the Region 2-6A opener for both teams.

Bracey’s free throw with 12.6 seconds left gave Warren Central (7-2, 1-0) a 40-39 lead. Vicksburg’s Kailin Young, who 30 seconds earlier had made a game tying 17-foot jumper, came up short from 8 feet on the game’s final shot.

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Acting Warren Central coach Troy Henegan said the Lady Vikes felt Young would take Vicksburg’s shot.

“When she tied the game on that long jumper, we thought they’d go back to her,” Henegan said. “She’s a great athlete.”

Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said Young’s final look was a good one.

“We got the shot we wanted. It just didn’t go down,” Hartzog said.

Neither team could get free throws to drop. Vicksburg (4-6, 0-1) missed all six of its attempts in the second half and were 5-of-16 for the game. Warren Central was equally bad, making just 6 of 19 for the game, but Bracey made the right one when it counted.

“It was very nerve-

wracking,” Bracey said of her free throw.

Henegan said the soldout gym had an effect on the Lady Vikes.

“We just had a lot of anxiety from the atmosphere in this place,” Henegan said. “But when they got a lead, we didn’t get down.”

It was a heads-up play by Bracey, who had 11 points, five rebounds and three steals, that gave Warren Central a 39-37 lead before Young tied it back with 42 seconds left. When she got the ball at the high post, Vicksburg swarmed her with three defenders.

“I tried not to panic when three of them came at me,” Bracey said. “I saw Rolanda (Lovette) open and got the ball to her.”

Lovette made the layup, but Young answered to send the capacity crowd into a frenzy.

Vicksburg opened the game strongly by hitting its first five shots and had a 15-6 lead after one quarter. The Missy Gators were up 13 at 20-7 when Warren Central answered with a 16-0 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Sherelle Kelly, and two baskets each by Bracey and Gloria Strong. WC led 23-21 at the half.

The two teams were even at 31 at the end of three quarters. Taylor Willis stuck back a rebound after a missed free throw to erase Vicksburg’s last lead of the game, 37-35.

Young led Vicksburg with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Breanna Foy had three points, four steals and five assists for the Missy Gators.