Callaway sprints away from Warren Central at JPS Tournament

Published 1:25 am Tuesday, December 27, 2016

JACKSON — Warren Central came out of the halftime break Monday trading baskets with Callaway and seemingly ready to make a push for the lead.

That lasted about a minute.

The next 15 were spent in frustration, wondering not just how the game got away from them but how it got away so quickly.

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Callaway hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter, including three in the first two minutes, to sprint away from Warren Central and to a 70-51 victory in the first round of the boys’ Jackson Public Schools Tournament.

Warren Central had won three of its previous four games coming into the annual post-Christmas tournament. The Vikings have not won their JPS Tournament opener in four tries since returning to the event in 2012 after a long hiatus.

“We’re not disciplined enough on offense. A lot of times we take one-pass shots. We’re not sharing the ball. If we don’t share, they go down and make a 3 and now it’s stretching out,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “We don’t make our free throws, we miss layups, or don’t finish at the rim, that hurts you. That’s how teams can stretch out. You have empty possessions and they have possessions where they’re scoring.”

Callaway (9-5) advanced to face Terry in a winners’ bracket game Tuesday night. Warren Central (6-5) can still reach the championship game, but must battle back through the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament. It’ll play Wingfield Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Murrah High School, and if it wins it’ll head across town for another elimination game at Lanier High School at 3:30 p.m.

The Vikings must also win two games on Wednesday to win the tournament. Robinson was just hoping to get through a grueling Tuesday.

“We can still have an opportunity to get to Forest Hill,” Robinson said, referencing the site of Wednesday’s championship round. “That was our goal, was to get to Forest Hill. That’s still the goal.”

Callaway surged out in front in the first half of Monday’s tournament opener, using a 10-0 run to take the lead for good. The Chargers led 35-24 at the half, but Warren Central cut that to eight in the opening moments of the third quarter.

That’s when Callaway turned on the jets and left the Vikings in the dust.

Kassim Nicholson hit one 3-pointer and Tamarrio Ransburgh hit two more as Callaway sprinted ahead 45-29 with 5:54 left in the third quarter. Callaway led by as many as 19 points later in the period, and Warren Central never got closer than 14 the rest of the game.

Ransburgh finished with 19 points to lead Callaway, and Nicholson had 16.

Kevin Virges scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the second half for Warren Central. Shaun Walton scored 13 points, and Raleigh Floyd had 10.

“We’ve got a problem with shot selection that we’ve got to fix. We’re trying something new, and my guys don’t really get it when it’s new. But you just look at the number of free throws we missed, the two attempted dunks we missed, we’re just not getting it right at the rim and they’re getting a lot of offensive rebounds,” Robinson said. “They’re not that much better than we are. They’re good. But if we can correct some of the things we’ve done we’re going to be all right.”

(G) Callaway 51, Warren Central 40

The Warren Central Lady Vikes’ loss to Callaway in the Jackson Public Schools Tournament on Monday was as ugly as a tacky Christmas sweater and as maddening as opening a pack of socks on Christmas morning.

The Lady Vikes (9-4) committed 27 turnovers in the game and let a fourth-quarter lead slip away as they lost to Callaway in a first-round game at Murrah High School. They had a two-game winning streak snapped.

“We didn’t play up to our abilities. I thought we struggled handling the ball, getting the ball where we needed to get it. I think they wanted it better than us,” Warren Central coach Jackie Glass said. “I don’t know if it was the break, being off three or four days. It could be a lot of things. I know we didn’t execute, and that was the ultimate reason why we didn’t pull it out.”

Amber Gaston had a huge game for Warren Central, with 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, but didn’t get a lot of help. The team’s next-highest scorer was Dee Dee Caldwell with nine points, and no one else had more than three.

Gaston had her second double-double of the season, and her third consecutive game with at least 20 points. She’s scored in double figures in seven consecutive games.

Taking out Gaston’s 10-of-14 shooting performance Monday, the Lady Vikes were just 6-for-21 (28.5 percent) from the field.

The turnovers and poor shooting took their toll in the fourth quarter. After entering the period with a 32-31 lead, the Lady Vikes missed several shots and turned the ball over during an 8-1 Callaway run that put the Lady Chargers ahead to stay.

A rebound basket by Te’Asia Sims broke the run, but was WC’s only field goal in the last five minutes of the game.

Mary Boyd scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter for Callaway (5-6). Elisha Blackmon added 11 points and three other players had at least seven.

Warren Central will play Natchez in a losers’ bracket game Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Lanier High School in Jackson. If WC wins that one, it’ll play another elimination game at Lanier at 5 p.m.

Like the boys’ team, the Warren Central girls must win twice on Tuesday and twice more on Wednesday to win the tournament championship.

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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