Lady Vikes hit eight 3-pointers en route to win over Vicksburg

Published 10:02 pm Saturday, January 13, 2018

Everyone in the gym, it seemed, wanted Warren Central to come out firing 3-pointers Saturday against Vicksburg High.

The results were just not quite what anybody expected.

The Lady Vikes made five 3-pointers in the first quarter to open up a double-digit lead they never relinquished, and went on to beat the Missy Gators 75-54.

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It’s Warren Central’s fifth consecutive win over its crosstown rival, with the last four all coming by 21 points or more. The Lady Vikes (15-4) also won their third game in a row overall this season.

“This is our last game against Vicksburg for the seniors. We wanted to come out, play our best, and have a memory to look back on,” said Warren Central senior guard T.T. Sims, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, added two more later on, and finished with a game-high 19 points.

Cocoa Fultz had 14 points and six rebounds for the Lady Vikes, while Amber Gaston finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Yakia Burns led Vicksburg (9-7) with 10 points. Ke’Mari Smith scored nine and Dajia Reed had seven.

Smith and senior forward Eriel Bunch both fouled out in the fourth quarter as the Missy Gators battled foul trouble all game long. Five players, including three starters, finished with either four or five fouls. Warren Central shot 31 free throws in the first half alone, and 40 in the game.

The officiating was hardly one-sided, though. Vicksburg went 22-for-37 from the foul line. The difference, however, was that Warren Central’s fouls were spread among more players. With so many starters in foul trouble for VHS, coach Troy Stewart had to change up his substitution patterns to compensate.

“In the first half it affected us because we couldn’t keep the girls on the floor that we wanted to keep on the floor,” Stewart said. “But for the last three games, that’s either been the way we’ve gotten beat or the team has stayed in the game with us. What’s happening with us right now is their best player is shooting 30 free throws a game. You take 31 free throws away from them and it’s a closer game.”

With the way the Lady Vikes were shooting early on, however, it might not have been.

After a couple of minutes of back-and-forth action, Sims and Fultz started heating up from 3-point range. Sims hit three treys and Fultz two to spark a 15-4 run. Sims and Fultz each scored nine points in the first quarter as the Lady Vikes jumped out to a 26-12 lead.

“It was open,” Sims said of the 3-pointers. “They were in a 2-3 zone and we were running zone motion. When it went into the corner they doubled down and we were open for those shots.”

The Lady Vikes attempted 10 3-pointers total in the first quarter, something that both Stewart and WC coach Jackie Martin-Glass said they wanted to happen.

Stewart wanted to force the Lady Vikes to shoot outside to take away the dominating inside presence of Gaston. Martin-Glass was urging her players to try the deep shots to force the Missy Gators out of their zone defense and open things up inside.

“If you look up and see that they’re double- and triple-teaming and playing a zone, you’ve got to shoot the ball to put them out of the zone. We just had some pretty good shooting early,” Martin-Glass said. “I wanted to keep doing it, but we pulled away from it.”

Stewart got the effect he wanted with his defensive scheme, but not the results.

“That’s what I wanted them to do. I wanted to keep Amber at bay, so I was going to give up the 3-point shot. I had no clue they were going to shoot them and make them with that frequency,” Stewart said.

The exciting 3-point barrage at the beginning gradually gave way to a wave of whistles that slowed the game to a crawl. Warren Central led 49-29 at halftime, and the second half was more or less a stalemate on the scoreboard. Warren Central’s lead never got above 28 points, and a late run by VHS in the final minutes trimmed the final margin to 21.

“I told the girls I want to get back into the game, but you can’t get back into the game with one play. You have to chip back away at it. One possession at a time, get a stop and come back down and score. Get a stop, and come back down and score,” Stewart said. “If we had done that, we could have gotten back into the game, but we sent them to the line too much in the second half as well.”

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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