Division showdowns on tap for VHS, WC

Published 10:00 am Monday, January 27, 2014

The boys basketball teams in Division 4-5A and Division 4-6A are so evenly matched, any one of them can beat the others on a given night. The parity in both leagues means there won’t be a desirable matchup heading into next month’s division tournaments.

That being said, both Vicksburg High and Warren Central are keenly aware of who they don’t want to meet in the first round, and the next few games will determine whether they get their wish.

Both Warren County teams enter the back half of their division schedules Tuesday with games that will be key in determining seeding for their league tournaments.

Vicksburg (13-4, 1-2 Division 4-5A) plays at Callaway (17-1, 3-0), which sits atop the standings and seems headed toward a No. 1 seed. The Gators, meanwhile, are in third place and desperately trying to stay there.

A last-place finish would mean a rematch with Callaway — and Malik Newman, one of the top juniors in the country — in an elimination game in the first round of the division tournament.

“Like I told the kids, our playoffs started Friday night,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said after Friday’s 80-57 win over Lanier. “If we lose to Lanier at home, then we play Callaway in the first round of the tournament. Not saying we can’t beat Callaway, but you don’t want to play Callaway the first round of district with the team they have. That’s just common sense.”

The Gators played Callaway tough before losing 67-60 in their first meeting on Jan. 7 in Vicksburg. The Gators led that game in the second half before letting it get away.

“We’ve just got to do like we did tonight and slow the ball down in the second half,” Vicksburg guard Edward Davis said. “We can play with anybody. At the end, we’ve just got to take good shots instead of bad shots.”

Warren Central (11-10, 1-1 Division 4-6A), meanwhile, begins a stretch of four division games in five outings when it hosts Murrah (8-8, 3-0) Tuesday.

Like their crosstown rivals, the Vikings’ primary goal during the regular season is earning a seed that allows them to avoid a rematch with a Jackson school.

Murrah has fallen off a bit from last year’s Class 6A championship run, but remains a dangerous opponent. More than that, it’ll have homecourt advantage by hosting the division tournament.

Murrah has a two-game lead on second-place Warren Central heading into Tuesday’s game and can virtually lock up the No. 1 seed with a win. The teams play again on Feb. 11 in Jackson, however, which means WC still has the opportunity to play its way into the top spot.

Warren Central also has a bit of a homecourt advantage of its own in the regular season stretch run. Three of its last four division games are at home, and it’s already beaten Greenville-Weston on the road.

“In division play, we feel like you have to defend your home court. So this is a must-win game for us, and that’s what we’re telling the kids,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “We know that we can end up number one, and I don’t think they’ll (Murrah) end up number four.

“Sometimes it’s voodoo math,” Robinson added. “You don’t want to have to play Murrah, at home, in a put-out game. We don’t want them too far out in front of us.”


Remaining games

Vicksburg High

Jan. 28 – *at Callaway

Jan. 31 – *Pearl

Feb. 4 – *at Lanier

Feb. 14 – Brandon

Feb. 18-21 – Division 4-5A tournament, at Pearl

Warren Central

Jan. 28 – *Murrah

Jan. 31 – at Ridgeland

Feb. 4 – *Clinton

Feb. 7 – *Greenville-Weston

Feb. 11 – *at Murrah

Feb. 14 – Amanda Elzy

Feb. 18-21 – Division 4-6A tournament, at Murrah

* Division games

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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