Vikings hold off Gators down the stretch for win

Published 8:55 pm Saturday, December 9, 2017

In a game defined by back and forth runs from both teams, a clutch basket in the closing seconds of the third quarter proved to be the difference as Warren Central held on to defeat Vicksburg 47-40 Saturday.

With time winding down in the third and his team up by one following an unforced Vicksburg (4-5) turnover, Warren Central (7-2) sophomore Randy Clark drove through the lane and dropped in a layup to give the Vikings a 31-28 lead heading into the fourth.

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The bucket would prove to be just the momentum swing the Vikings needed as they followed it up by opening the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 40-30 lead over the Gators.

“It was a huge lift because the guy that hit it, Randy Clark, he kind of had a rough second quarter,” Warren Central interim head coach James Lewis said. “That really pushed him, knocking down that bucket at the end of the third, then he played well for the first three or four minutes of the fourth.”

Vicksburg eventually cut the lead to 40-36, but never drew any closer as Warren Central capitalized on its free throw attempts down the stretch.

“That 10 point lead was strictly off of defense,” Lewis said. “We changed some things up and were fortunate they missed some shots they had been making earlier and we adjusted from there.”

Warren Central held an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Vicksburg refused to back down and battled back to tie the game at 16 before taking the lead 18-16. The advantage would be short lived though as Warren Central came right back and took a 19-18 lead into the half.

“We started out pretty good, but in these types of games we know there’s going to be runs back and forth,” Lewis said. “We did a good thing, our bench did a good job and we did a good job of sustaining runs.”

The Gators started the second half on a 5-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 23-19. The teams traded baskets back and forth for the rest of the quarter before a free throw and Clark’s lay-up at the buzzer put the Vikings in front for good.

“We’ve got a lot of energy, but we’ve got to understand the game more,” Vicksburg head coach Kelvin Carter said.  “In the nine games we have played, we have mental lapses going into the fourth.”

The two teams battled in front of a sold out crowd at Warren Central, which forced them to close the doors to any additional fans prior to the girls’ game.

“As an alumni here, I am blessed to have the opportunity to come back and coach here,” Lewis said. “This is what you coach for, games like this, and I am just fortunate to be on the end of winning. That is fun.”

Cabria Barnes led the way for Warren Central with eight points. In all, nine different players had at least three points for the Vikings.

Kedarrion Parson was the only player from either team to reach double figures as he led the Gators with 11 points.

Next up for Warren Central is a trip to Brandon on Tuesday. Vicksburg doesn’t play again until Friday when they travel to St. Joseph Catholic in Jackson.