Vikings lose on close shot
Published 12:12 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014
JACKSON — David Robinson drove the baseline and let loose a short floater that had Warren Central’s season riding on its trajectory.
The ball bounced off the backboard, off the rim, and then rolled slowly toward the front. It looked like it would go in. It looked like it should have gone in.
It didn’t. And, just like that, Warren Central’s championship dreams fell to the floor with a resounding thud.
The Vikings’ best season in eight years ended Monday night with a 31-29 overtime loss to Greenville-Weston in the opening round of the Division 4-6A Tournament at Murrah High School. It was a stunning end for a team that won the regular-season division title and had designs on a deep run in the playoffs.
WC finished the season with a 16-10 record, its first winning mark since the 2005-06 season. It hasn’t won its division tournament since 2004.
“It’s disappointing, because we know we’re better than that team and we kind of carried them. But we still had a real good season,” WC coach Bruce Robinson said. “I’m proud of my guys. We fought hard, we had a good run there. A call here and a call there and we win that game.”
Mario Doyle led WC with 11 points and Gerald Glass scored 10. Rod Birt led Greenville with 10 points.
Greenville (13-14) advanced to Friday night’s championship game against either Clinton or Murrah, which play tonight.
Although having the No. 1 seed lose to the division’s last-place team was an upset on paper, neither Bruce Robinson nor Greenville coach Marlon Dorsey viewed it as such. The three meetings between the teams this season were decided by a total of eight points. In all, seven of the 12 games played inside the division this season were decided by three points or less.
Greenville also snapped a six-game losing streak to Warren Central — none of the games were decided by more than eight points — and clinched a spot in next week’s North State satellite game for the first time since 2011.
“We showed some signs the last time we played them. We just had to match their intensity,” Greenville coach Marlon Dorsey said. “All of us coaches talked about anybody could win this district or the district tournament. Everybody was evenly matched this year. It made for a good district. It doesn’t erase the fact what Coach Robinson did this year and what he’s always done since he’s been at Warren Central.”
Warren Central, perhaps poetically, was finished by its inability to finish.
The Vikings held the ball for more than a minute at the end of the second, third and fourth quarters to get the last shot. Glass missed a shot in the lane at the end of the second quarter, and they didn’t get a shot off in the third. With the score tied at 29 and time winding down in regulation, Glass missed a contested layup in front of the basket as the horn sounded.
Glass’ fourth-quarter miss came after the Vikings went cold at the start of the period. They missed four shots and committed a turnover on their first five possessions to allow Greenville to slowly erase a three-point deficit. WC’s only basket in the fourth quarter was a 3-pointer by Doyle with 2:45 remaining.
The Vikings also did not shoot a free throw in the second half or overtime despite repeatedly pushing the ball inside.
“We got what we wanted. If he’s going to sit back and we’ve got the last shot at the front of the rim, then we got exactly what we wanted. It just didn’t fall,” Bruce Robinson said. “It’s our go-to move, and it just didn’t go in. It rolled off. What else can you do?”
Both teams held the ball for long stretches in overtime, seemingly content to let one or two plays decide things. Greenville scored the only basket of the extra period on Birt’s 8-foot leaner with 39 seconds left. He missed a free throw following the basket to open the door for the Vikings to tie or win.
Glass was called for an offensive foul with 14 seconds to go, but the Vikings got a second chance when Lamichael Knighten missed the front end of a one-and-one. WC grabbed the rebound and, once again, had an opportunity to tie or win.
David Robinson dribbled to the left corner and drove the baseline. He got a clean shot off, but it rolled off the front of the rim as time expired.
“I had a good look at it,” David Robinson said. “I had a good look at the shot. It just didn’t go.”