Vikings make big statement
Published 8:31 am Friday, February 14, 2014
WC can lock up No. 1 seed in division tournament with win tonight
The Division 4-6A schedule has been surprisingly devoid of blowouts this season. Seven of the 10 games within the league entering Thursday had been decided by three
points or less, and none by more than 10.
Warren Central shattered that mold Thursday night and served notice that they’ll be the team to beat in next week’s division tournament — and possibly beyond.
Gerald Glass and Mario Doyle combined to score 25 of WC’s 36 points in the second half — they finished with 23 and 21 points, respectively — and the Vikings ran away from Murrah to win 65-50.
The victory virtually clinched the No. 1 seed in the division tournament for WC. Warren Central and Murrah play again tonight in Jackson, with Murrah needing to win by at least 12 points to win a tiebreaker and secure the No. 1 seed.
The division tournament starts Monday night at Murrah. If WC (15-10, 5-1 Division 4-6A) is the top seed, it will play Greenville-Weston on Monday. If WC loses by 12 or more tonight, it’ll face Clinton on Tuesday.
“We know we can beat any team in the district now, and we’ve got as much confidence as any team in the state,” Doyle said. “I want a district championship just like everybody else does.”
Thursday’s win was a welcome sight for a Warren Central, which has now won six consecutive games but had been struggling to hold on to big leads and put teams away.
The Vikings took a 12-point lead into halftime against Murrah (12-12, 3-2), then dropped the hammer midway through the third quarter. After the Mustangs sliced their deficit to seven points, Glass drilled two 3-pointers on consecutive trips up the floor to restore the margin to double digits, 40-29, with 3:30 left in the period. The treys were the start of an 11-4 run that put the Vikings up 45-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
“It gave us a big boost. But the play from the team, and teammates finding each other, just gave us a big lift altogether. It just set the night off,” Glass said.
Another big run, this one a 13-3 spurt, pushed WC’s lead to 58-37 with just under five minutes left in the game. That eliminated the question of who would win, but there was still some drama to be had.
A late surge brought Murrah within 11 points in the final minute, and thus gave it a chance to still claim the No. 1 seed without a convincing victory in tonight’s rematch. Glass and Jacorey Turner hit two free throws apiece, however, to push the margin back to 15 points. The Vikings dribbled out the last 20 seconds after Murrah missed a 3-pointer.
“We were just trying to win,” WC coach Bruce Robinson said. “But we did mention the scenario that we have to win at home and beat them by more points than they beat us by. Once we got that lead, we felt like we could hold on.”
(G) Murrah 67, WC 43
Warren Central’s long season continued Thursday night, and it’s running out of time to turn things around.
Tatyana Lofton scored 27 points, Kawaii Perry added 16, and Murrah (17-5, 2-3 Division 4-6A) handed the Lady Vikes (7-17, 0-5) their ninth loss in 11 games. WC’s five division losses have all been by at least 16 points.
Tiana Roby led Warren Central with 18 points, freshman Kiara Lockhart scored eight, and Cretesha Kelly had seven.
“We’ve been plagued all year with injuries, illnesses and team issues. Through it all, and tonight, we’ve played pretty hard. We played better than we have the last couple of games,” WC coach Jackie Glass said. “I’m just encouraging them to keep trying and keep fighting. You’re going to have some down years, and this is down.”
With the loss, Warren Central is assured of the No. 4 seed in the division tournament. It’ll play top-seeded Clinton Monday at 6 p.m. at Murrah. Clinton won the two regular-season meetings with WC by 46 and 42 points. Glass was hopeful that her team, which trailed by 10 at halftime in its last meeting with Clinton on Feb. 4, can find a way to put together a supreme effort when it matters most.
“We’re just going to go back to the video and readjust what we did and look where we went wrong,” Glass said. “Last time we played Clinton we were only down 10 at the half, so that’s something we can build on.”