Vicksburg, Warren Central square off Saturday

Published 9:33 am Friday, December 4, 2015

Any time there’s a Vicksburg and Warren Central game, in any sport, it’s going to be one for the books.

This time it’s a battle on the hardwood on, with Vicksburg having home court advantage. It’s the first of two non-division meetings between the schools this season.

Both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Vicksburg have had some ups and downs so far this season. The Missy Gators (3-3) lost two, won two, then lost 48-44 to Raymond on Thursday. Coach Barbara Hartzog said she’s been working with her players on their defensive press and other fundamentals.

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“If we’re on top of our game with our defense we can apply a lot of pressure. We can run the floor also. We’ve got good speed,” Hartzog said.

Hartzog said she’s also seen a cloud of leadership envelop her team.

“I think the seniors are stepping up and are taking some leadership roles. The juniors are helping out too,” Hartzog said. “The sophomores are getting better every day, as long as they learn from the upper class. They really are the foundation of it all.”

One of Vicksburg’s upperclassmen, Karry Callahan, will be a focal point for both sides. The two-time Vicksburg Post Player of the Year is averaging 15.2 points and 19.4 rebounds per game.

Warren Central coach Jackie Martin-Glass wants to make sure whoever is guarding Callahan boxes her out to prevent rebounds and second-chance points.

Martin-Glass said Saturday’s game would have both teams playing above their normal level of competition because of the rivalry.

“It’s just going to be who wants it the most, who battles the hardest and who can cut down on the mistakes and take advantage,” Martin-Glass said.

On the boys’ side, Warren Central swept the season series last year to break a 10-year, 19-game losing streak to the Gators. Those two games were decided by a total of five points. Only two of the last eight in the series were decided by more than five points.

This time, the Vikings and Gators are coming from different directions in terms of momentum. Vicksburg (3-4) lost 41-27 to Raymond on Thursday for its fourth consecutive loss. Warren Central (5-4) has won four in a row.

What Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson wants his team to do is continue the momentum they’ve built in the last two weeks.

“Whether it’s Vicksburg or whether it’s Raymond or whether it’s Pearl, we just want to keep building our momentum and keep building our brand of basketball that our fans like and win some ballgames,” Robinson said. “We do play basketball over here on Highway 27 and I think people here in Vicksburg need to realize that.”

Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson does. He watched the Vikings’ last game, a 67-59 win Tuesday against Pearl, and was impressed with the guard play from Jesse Wilson, Jalen Allen and Shaunterrance Walton, who scored a team-high 28 points.

“They have great athletes when it comes to guards. Not only that they shoot the ball real well and can get to the rack so that’s going to be a problem for us, if we’re going to decide to give them the 3-point shot or let them take the ball to the basket,” Dellie C. Robinson said.

Vicksburg’s Coach Robinson said Warren Central and Raymond play similar styles of ball, and he planned to use Thursday’s game to see how his team would match up against the Vikings.

“They both play the 3-2 (zone), but Raymond plays more man-to-man (defense) than Warren Central does,” Dellie said. “It’s going to be a compatible game. Basically, what we do against Raymond, we’re going to do against Warren Central.”

Gators big man Kirk Parker won’t be there to protect the rim, as he injured his elbow grabbing a rebound and is out until January. Parker dislocated his other elbow during football season.

His presence on the court would’ve given the Gators an advantage in the paint and shifted the dynamic from a back to the basket game to one driven by the play of the guards.

Parker’s injury has set the team back and they now have to find out how to play without their leading scorer. Their losing streak has coincided with his absence.

“We didn’t play well the first game without him … we lost at the buzzer by two. Now that we’ve had a week to practice, I think we kind of got over the hump playing without him,” Dellie said. “Now that we don’t have that presence down low, we changed our game and we’re going to be a more fast paced team.”

Warren Central at Vicksburg

Saturday, 1 p.m.

Admission: $6