Vikings’ opportunity to win title is oddly rare
Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2017
Of the “Big Three” high school sports — football, basketball and baseball — it would seem that basketball is the easiest to win a championship. All you need is a few good, committed players to put you in the mix and a little bit of luck to get over the top.
Every once in a while, especially at a big school, those ingredients should come together to at least win the division if not a state title.
Somehow, for Warren Central’s boys’ basketball program, they never have.
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The Vikings have not made it to the Mississippi Coliseum round of the state tournament since 1974. They haven’t won their division tournament since 2004, and have only played in the finals a couple of times since their last title.
It’s hard to explain why a large school with a good athletic culture has struggled for so long in a major sport. Warren Central has been a consistent winner in a lot of other things, including girls’ basketball. Boys’ basketball has more often than not been a competitive black hole.
Since he was hired as the head coach in 2012, Bruce Robinson has been on a mission to change that. Unlike a lot of coaches who talk and dream big, Robinson was under no illusions about the mountain he had to climb. He’s spoken honestly about the lack of success and how it’s as much of a challenge to winning as facing a 7-foot center.
Slowly but surely, step by step, Robinson has climbed that mountain. This year’s Vikings are only 11-14 but upset Clinton in the first round of the Division 4-6A tournament Monday night. They’ll play Murrah in the championship game on Friday at 7:30 p.m., in their home gym.
After beating Clinton, Robinson had a smile on his face a mile wide. It was a look of joy, pride and accomplishment. Joy at the victory. Pride in his players and coaches for executing a perfect game plan against a team that had blown them out twice in the past month. Accomplishment over taking a big step up the mountain.
Warren Central will get to host a game in the state tournament next week no matter what happens against Murrah. The ninth-grade team has won the Little Six Conference title the last two years, so there should be a wave of talent coming down the pipeline in 2018 and 2019.
For the first time in a while, Warren Central boys’ basketball has a bright future. Hopefully it can finish this step in the process Friday and begin the next journey — the one that ends in Jackson.
Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org