Warren Central’s freshman team wins third straight Little Six championship
Published 8:00 am Monday, January 29, 2018
Warren Central’s varsity boys basketball team is building toward a brighter future in a breakthrough season. Its ninth-grade team is building a dynasty.
The freshman Vikings beat Madison’s Rosa Scott High School 54-51 on Saturday to win the Little Six Conference tournament for the third year in a row. Prior to this run, Warren Central had not won the ninth-grade league’s championship since 1993.
The Vikings have a 42-8 record over the past three seasons. The success has created a strong feeder program for the varsity, which is 16-4 this season and in first place in Division 4-6A. Ninth-grade coach James Lewis said he’s proud of how the entire program is starting to come together.
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“The future is bright and promising. These kids are very coachable and are eager to get better,” Lewis said. “Each group I’ve had for the last three seasons has worked tremendously hard and always wanted to get better each and every day. We have great administrators, a great athletic director and great kids. This championship was sweet, however, because of all the obstacles throughout the season.”
The obstacles started early in the season, when Warren Central varsity head coach Bruce Robinson took a medical leave of absence and spent about a month away from the program. Lewis served as the interim varsity coach during that time, and eighth-grade coach Charles Swartz stepped up to coach the ninth-grade team.
The Vikings went 7-1 under Swartz, with a one-point road loss at Vicksburg the only blemish on the record. They lost by four points at Rosa Scott in Lewis’ first game back with the team, and then ripped off five consecutive victories to finish the season.
“The kids never lost a beat,” Lewis said.
They did have to put in some extra effort to win the Little Six tournament, however. After beating Ridgeland 53-43 in the semifinals on Friday night, they fell behind by 12 points in the third quarter of the championship game against Rosa Scott.
The Vikings cut it to seven heading into the fourth quarter, where they outscored Rosa Scott 18-8. Anthony Lumpkin hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining that gave WC a two-point lead, and it never trailed again.
Lumpkin finished with nine points, and Darius Smothers scored 10 for the Vikings. Antwuan Calvin led the team with 19 points.
“It’s hard to win one. It’s extremely hard to win two. When you’re talking about winning three, with a brand new team every year, it is extremely, extremely hard. This is not something you can do every year. Rosa Scott has a great team, too. They’re always prepared and play hard. Fortunately for us, we’ve been on the positive end three years in a row,” Lewis said. “I want to thank everybody for doing their part for us to be successful — not just the players and coaches, but the fans, parents and administrators. This is not a one-man show. This was a total team effort.”