Lady Vikes fumble away opportunities, lose to Murrah

Published 12:17 am Saturday, February 18, 2017

With a little more than two minutes left Friday night, the Warren Central Lady Vikes were right where they expected to be — if not necessarily where they wanted to be — in the Division 4-6A tournament championship game against Murrah.

It had been a tight game all night, and a two-point margin separated the teams.

By the time the clock bled out to all zeroes, however, the Lady Vikes were where they’ve been for far too long — watching another team celebrate a division title.

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In the last two minutes, Warren Central committed three turnovers, missed two shots and two free throws, and allowed Murrah to run one minute off the clock. Murrah escaped WC’s gym with a 39-36 victory and the division title, while Warren Central’s championship drought reached eight frustrating seasons.

“We missed opportunities, and that hurts. Usually when we have that kind of series in the last three minutes, we don’t come out well,” Warren Central coach Jackie Martin-Glass said.

The season is far from over for Warren Central (22-8). It had already advanced to the Class 6A state tournament by virtue of finishing in the top three in the division. Its second-place finish means it will host a first-round game in the state tournament against Hernando next week.

The date and time of the game will be determined Saturday. Warren Central’s boys’ team will also play Hernando in the first round of the state tournament, so it’s expected that both games will be played as a doubleheader Tuesday.

“We still have an opportunity to move on and continue on to the Coliseum. We just have to make sure they come in and correct these mistakes that they made tonight,” Martin-Glass said. “We take losses and evaluate our own self-discipline and ask ourselves, ‘Are we going to correct it? Or are we going to go forward and allow it to keep happening again and again?’”

Jamaica Almonds and Kasey Bradford finished with 12 points apiece for Murrah (21-6), which has split four meetings with Warren Central this season. The four games have been decided by a total of 15 points.
Amber Gaston and Cocoa Fultz led theLady Vikes with eight points each.

Murrah crept out to a 28-18 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter, but Warren Central went on a 10-0 run to tie it early in the fourth. They traded baskets throughout the final period until Bradford scored on a putback with 2 ½ minutes to go to put the Lady Mustangs up 36-34.

After that, Warren Central fell apart.

T.T. Sims missed a fast break layup after coming up with a steal, and her sister Te’Asia Sims turned the ball over on a similar play on the next possession. Bradford hit a free throw, and another WC turnover led to a basket by Almonds to put Murrah ahead 39-34 with 1:45 remaining.

Aniya Sanders hit two free throws to get WC within one possession, but Murrah was able to bleed a full minute off the clock with a spirited game of keep-away. KeiMoya Walker was finally fouled with 40.7 seconds to go.

“My girls said they were fouling, that they were slapping and pushing them, but obviously the refs didn’t see that. I told them to foul and they said in the dressing room that they were and (officials) didn’t call it,” Martin-Glass said. “It was about a minute and some on the clock when we tried to foul. If we didn’t get a steal in the first 10 seconds or so, then we wanted to foul them. Once they started running and spread the floor, we couldn’t catch up with them. We let a little too much time run off the clock.”

Murrah kept the door open for the Lady Vikes by missing four free throws in the last two minutes. They weren’t able to slide through it, though.

Regina Sampson ended one WC possession by stealing the ball from T.T. Sims in the frontcourt, and Sanders missed a pair of free throws with 17.7 seconds left. With one last chance in the final seconds, Dee Dee Caldwell had a good look at a game-tying 3-pointer from the right corner, but was well off the mark. Caldwell got her own rebound but couldn’t get a second shot off — and was inside of the 3-point arc even if she had.

“Everything worked in our favor to even go into overtime. We got an open look and we missed it,” Martin-Glass said.

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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