Vikings, Lady Vikes will try to keep seasons alive Friday vs. Clinton

Published 8:20 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

All along, Warren Central boys basketball coach Bruce Robinson has distilled his team’s goals down to one crucial and simple truth. To get to the state tournament, they’d have to beat either Murrah, Greenville or Clinton in the division tournament.

The Vikings didn’t play Murrah. They lost to Greenville. So now, it’s all about beating Clinton when they clash Friday in an elimination game in the Division 4-6A tournament. The winner advances to the Class 6A state tournament next week, and the loser’s season is over.

The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. at Clinton High School.

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“You’ve got to beat one of the three. It’s down to one and done,” Robinson said. “You just want to have an opportunity, especially with a younger team, to have a taste of that travel so they’ll be hungry for it. I don’t want them to be disappointed about losing (to Greenville) when they still have that opportunity.”

Unlike when they faced top-seeded Greenville in the first round of the tournament — a matchup that resulted in a 47-32 loss — Robinson said there was a comfort level in facing Clinton.

The Arrows (16-11) are no pushover, but the Vikings (11-16) have had success against them. Warren Central lost 52-37 at Clinton in January and then won 54-53 at home in early February. Six of the last eight meetings in the series have been decided by five points or less.

That’s in contrast to facing Greenville, which has beaten WC seven consecutive times and is 24-4 this season. Being on more even footing, Robinson said, will allow him to go with a more normal gameplan instead of trying to compensate for a difference in talent levels and size.

“We tried to shorten the game a little bit against Greenville. We didn’t play as many guys. I think we match up a little bit better with Clinton,” Robinson said.

Before the Vikings and Arrows tip off, their female counterparts will face the same do-or-die scenario. Warren Central and Clinton’s girls teams will meet at 4 p.m. Friday with the winner advancing to the state tournament and the loser going home for a long offseason.

It’s a pivotal game for both programs, and not just because it’s their last chance to extend their seasons. Warren Central (17-11) only has one senior on its roster and Clinton (14-14) has none. Winning and getting to the state tournament would give both teams some valuable experience for what figures to be bigger and better things in the years to come.

Warren Central looked as if it might be headed for a deep postseason run before tailing off late in the year. It has lost five of its last seven games, and three in a row heading into Friday’s contest.

Clinton won both meetings in the regular season, 47-45 in January and 41-35 on Feb. 3.

The Lady Vikes’ biggest problem lately has been an inability to score. They haven’t scored more than 30 points during their current three-game losing streak. They’ve only topped the 50-point mark twice in their last 15 games.

Getting themselves right is as important as finding a way to stop Clinton, WC coach Jackie Martin-Glass said.

“We know we’re capable of winning. We just have to come in and play with intensity. I know we’re going to be in a hostile environment, so whoever shows up and plays and works the hardest is going to get it,” Martin-Glass said. “Either you play or you go home. If that’s not enough to motivate you, then it’s time to go home.”

Division 4-6A tournament

At Clinton High School



Warren Central vs. Clinton, 4 p.m.

Greenville vs. Murrah, 7 p.m.



Warren Central vs. Clinton, 5:30 p.m.

Murrah vs. Greenville, 8:30 p.m.

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 reporters in the paper's 140-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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