Lady Vikes stumble in division loss to Clinton

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

By Cody Thomason
The Vicksburg Post

A rough fourth quarter undid a seven-point lead and ultimately led to a 51-42 loss for the Warren Central Lady Vikes Tuesday against Clinton.

The Lady Vikes held an eight-point lead at halftime, but they struggled to score in the second half. Things fell apart in the fourth quarter, with the Arrows outscoring Warren Central 23-9 and stealing the game.

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“I’m still in awe that we lost,” Warren Central coach Jackie Martin-Glass said. “I thought the first half we executed well, we did what we needed to do. Second half I just thought we kind of got careless, played lackadaisical, we didn’t protect the ball, had too many turnovers, and didn’t counter their change in defense.”

The defensive change forced a lot of turnovers that cost Warren Central (17-6, 3-1 Division 4-6A) down the stretch.

“First half they played us a zone and we did well, second half they did a man and we still acted like we were in a zone,” Martin-Glass said. “We didn’t adjust well, we had really bad turnovers late in the fourth quarter, and they just continued to play hard because they felt they were still in striking distance.”

Clinton coach Mike Coleman said free throw shooting was key for his team, as they hit 15 of their 16 attempts in the fourth.

“Our free throw shooting and our full court press were excellent in the fourth quarter. It was because of our defensive pressure we put on,” Coleman said. “We couldn’t do that for three quarters because we hadn’t scored. Finally made a couple of baskets and we got our defense going.”

Jakayla Johnson, Kim McBride and Mychala Linzy led Clinton (19-4, 3-2) in scoring with 14 points apiece; meanwhile the duo of Amber Gaston and Cocoa Fultz had 20 and 14 points, respectively, for Warren Central.

“Amber is our go-to player, especially if we have the advantage inside,” Martin-Glass said. “I think we went well to her in the first half, second half we didn’t. We didn’t adjust well.”

Martin-Glass still felt good about the Lady Vikes’ current position. They’re a half-game ahead of Greenville and Clinton for the No. 1 seed in the division tournament with two to play — both at home. They’ll host Greenville on Friday night, and then Provine on Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We still have the advantage,” Martin-Glass said. “We just have to come out and bounce back from this loss, and try to win the next two, and we still go into the district tournament as a number one seed.”

(B) WC 42, Clinton 36

Warren Central edged out Clinton Tuesday in a defensive slugfest that heated up toward the end.
At the end of the first half, the Vikings held a 24-15 lead, but Clinton fought back. The Arrows got within a single basket, at 38-36 with a minute left, but a couple of free throws by Warren Central’s Jaques Jones put the game out of reach.

Warren Central (17-4, 4-0 Division 4-6A) remained in first place in the division. Clinton (5-17, 0-5) is in last place.

“I think we did exactly what we were supposed to do by holding on to win the ballgame,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “I think we’ve been doing that all year.”

Both teams struggled to score all game, but Robinson felt a defensive scheme change helped his team to succeed in the end.

“I think when we went to our zone that kind of helped us out a little bit,” Robinson said.
For the Vikings, Jabari Bowman finished with 10 points and Jalen Allen had nine. Xyshan Jenkins led Clinton with 10 points.

Robinson said the Vikings had a lackluster performance as a whole despite winning for the sixth time in seven games in January.

“A lot of times it’s not in what we do here on the floor, it’s in how we prepare to do what we do on the floor,” Robinson said. “For an experienced playoff team, I don’t think we’re getting the big picture on that, we should be more focused. We are senior-laden, we should be more focused and holding each other a little more accountable.”

With that win behind it, Warren Central is in a good position for the playoffs, but Robinson feels like this team has a chance to be remembered for years to come.

It has been more than 40 years since Warren Central has played for a state title, and it has only reached the state tournament a handful of times in that span.

“I’ve told them that we have our destiny in our own hands,” Robinson said. “I’m continuing to talk to them about being the gold standard. The last time Warren Central even played for a championship was 1974. If you focus for the next four to five weeks, you’re going to be the team that people talk about.”