Murrah crushes Warren Central in 4-6A boys’ final

Published 12:15 am Saturday, February 18, 2017

Looking at the quarter-by-quarter score from Friday’s Division 4-6A boys basketball tournament championship game, it seemed like a pretty even game. Warren Central only trailed by three points after one quarter and held its own throughout the second half.

The second quarter was a big old doughnut hole for the Vikings, however, and it left them feeling empty once again.

Murrah used a 15-2 run in the second quarter to gain a double-digit lead it never relinquished, and it cruised to a 73-51 victory over Warren Central for its second consecutive division tournament championship.

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“Transition layups. We took some bad shots. We told them that if that game gets out of the 50s, we’re going to be in trouble. That’s what it did. We really wanted to get out of the quarter and then the half and keep it close,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “You’ve got to know who you are. We’re not going to score too much over 50. This time of year you’ve got to know that and you’ve got to know how to handle whoever you’re playing. We handled it good the other night. Tonight we didn’t handle it so good.”

Adam Wallace and Damien Dear scored 18 points apiece for Murrah (20-4), which earned a first-round bye in the Class 6A state tournament by winning Friday.

Warren Central (10-15) still advanced to the state tournament and will host Hernando in the first round. The date and time of the game were to be determined Saturday morning. Since Hernando will also play at Warren Central in the first round of the girls’ state tournament, it’s expected that both games will be played as a doubleheader on Tuesday night.

Hernando (9-17) finished third in the Division 2-6A tournament.

“Whether we’re satisfied with just getting to Tuesday might play a little in it, but you don’t want to be satisfied,” Robinson said. “For those who are going to get to the Coliseum, there’s a lot of basketball left to play. We’ve got to regroup, get in Sunday and Monday and figure it out.”

Warren Central has not won a division title since 2004, but was coming into Friday’s championship game off an upset of Clinton in the first round earlier in the week and with plenty of momentum. It only trailed 12-9 heading into the second quarter, and then things quickly went sideways.

The Vikings didn’t score for the first 3 ½ minutes of the period. Murrah hit enough shots to slowly pad its lead, and then went up 23-11 on a 3-pointer by Jonas James II with 4:20 left. A dunk by Dear a minute later capped the 15-2 run and made it 27-11.

The Mustangs led 31-15 at halftime, and Warren Central never got closer than 11 points in the second half. Shaun Walton hit a 3-pointer with a little over four minutes left in the game to pull the Vikings to within 57-46 and make things mildly interesting for a moment, but Murrah answered with a 10-0 run to put it away.

Walton finished with 17 points to lead Warren Central, and Chavis Smith scored 14 — 12 of them in the second half.

James had 14 points for Murrah, and Eric Thornton added 13.

“We traded baskets, but we didn’t play any defense,” Robinson said. “We didn’t take charges on that back line. We executed on offense a lot better. Some things worked that didn’t work early. We made a few offensive adjustments so it looked a lot better.”

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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