Lady Vikes hang on to beat Missy Gators

Published 10:17 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

Warren Central played a little angry and drove the Vicksburg Missy Gators mad.

Aniyah Sanders and Cabria Barnes each posted double-doubles, and Warren Central blew a 20-point lead before closing strong to beat its archrival 59-51 on Saturday.

The Lady Vikes (3-2) won for the sixth straight time in the series. The teams will play again on Jan. 12 at Warren Central.

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Sanders finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, while Barnes had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Te’Asia Sims and Ta’Miya Dunn scored 11 points apiece for the Lady Vikes. Dunn also grabbed seven rebounds.

“The intensity level is high,” Warren Central coach Darein Hilliard said. “Everybody knows everybody and there’s been a lot of talk going along. A little bit more than I would like, but there’s nothing I can do about the social media situation. I think Vicksburg said something that (ticked) them off. I was a little shocked myself when I saw the score.”

Vicksburg (8-1) saw its eight-game winning streak — the best start to a season in more than 20 years — come to an end. It shot 42.8 percent (15-for-35) from the field thanks largely to an outstanding third quarter, but was just 17-for-34 at the free throw line and never led at any point in the game.

Yakia Burns scored 10 points to lead the Missy Gators, while Ke’Mari Smith had eight.

“The last game you expect to lose that streak on is this game. When you dig yourself a hole like that, you’re going to get beat,” Vicksburg coach Troy Stewart said. “They controlled the tempo. We couldn’t make a shot. We never got going in transition. That’s it. If we can’t run, we can’t win. Nobody could make a shot. I don’t know what to attest it to. We couldn’t stop anybody. I’m at a loss.”

Warren Central raced out to a 12-1 lead in the first three minutes of the game and led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter. Vicksburg, though, finally got its act together and made a charge in the third quarter.

Dajia Reed and Tiarra Jones hit two 3-pointers apiece, and Brandi Dillon also converted a conventional three-point play as the Missy Gators trimmed the deficit to 43-38 by the end of the third quarter.

“I give the girls credit for coming back and making it a game. We did make it a game, so I take solace in that,” Stewart said. “But I just don’t think we worked hard enough to get over the hump. If we don’t get in that 30-point hole, we don’t have this problem.”

The teams combined for one field goal in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, but Vicksburg kept on coming. A steal and layup by Sha’Kora Knight tied the score at 45 with 2:45 remaining.

The rest of the game, however, more closely resembled the first half. Sanders and Te’Asia Sims each hit a pair of free throws and Ta’Miya Dunn added a basket to put Warren Central back in front, 51-45, with 1:25 left. The Lady Vikes then went 6-for-8 at the foul line and got a couple of key baskets from Sanders coming down the stretch and to close it out.

“That’s a good ballclub. They’re undefeated and weren’t going to quit. We knew that was coming, we were just able to withstand the wave,” Hilliard said. “Everybody’s been talking about how good Vicksburg is. I think they’ve got to say Warren Central’s not too bad.”

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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