Wet court brings early end to Warren Central-Vicksburg game

Published 10:19 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lots of great rivalries have memorable installments that earn nicknames, and Vicksburg vs. Warren Central is no exception.

The first meeting of the 2018-19 season between the schools’ boys basketball teams will forever be known as The Slip and Slide Game.

A combination of a sellout crowd, warm gym, air conditioning and the occasional breeze blowing in through the doors on a rainy 45-degree afternoon contributed to an increasingly dangerous level of condensation on the court. Finally, with players from both teams slipping on nearly every possession, the game was called with 5:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.

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Warren Central led 40-37 at the time, but will not be credited with a victory. It will either be called a tie or a no contest. The teams will play again on Jan. 12 at Warren Central.

“I just didn’t want to get those guys hurt. Both teams were slipping and it was getting slipperier and slipperier. All I could see was somebody tearing their ACL or some crazy stuff,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “I really wanted to do it at halftime. Me and (Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson) kept trying to conversate and we kept saying, ‘If it got any worse,’ and it kept getting worse. His man fell down running. I didn’t want anybody to tear something up. It’s bigger than that. We’ve got this rivalry, we want to play hard and beat each other, but the good news is we’ve got to go over there and it’ll be 0-0 again.”

This was not the first time a game has been called in VHS’ gym because of condensation on the court. Several games in the 1990s met the same fate — and, strangely enough, both coaches were part of them. Carter had one called when he played for Vicksburg, and Robinson another when he was an assistant coach at Yazoo City.

Those earlier games were on both of their minds as conditions deteriorated.

“We were hoping we could get through it. In 1996 when I was coaching at Yazoo City it was the same situation over here. That game went to quadruple overtime and we suspended it as a tie,” Robinson said. “We noticed in the girls’ game that there was a lot of slipping and sliding. From ’96 I knew about the situation. I thought we could finish it, but somebody could tear up a knee or hit the floor and get a concussion. We’ve got to think safety first.”

The conditions on the court led to plenty of sloppy play and a fairly lackluster game. Warren Central led the entire way after opening the contest with an 11-2 run, but Vicksburg clawed its way back within a single possession on several occasions. For most of the game, the margin was between five and 10 points.

P.J. Mims led Warren Central with 13 points and Daniel Smothers scored seven. Devan Kiner scored 10 of his 13 points in the second quarter for Vicksburg, and Darius Johnson netted all 10 of his points in the second half.

All of the scoring leaders likely could have had a few more points if not for the moisture that robbed them of several fast break opportunities.

“It’s hard to maneuver. Both teams. You want to penetrate to the goal, and my guys threw the ball a couple of times and just fell down,” Carter said. “It’s just hard. The game plan was running pretty smooth, but we just couldn’t get going because we like to get to the rack. And it’s hard to get to the rack when you’re on ice skates.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Warren Central guard Jalen Glass had his feet go out from under him while trying to make a routine cut on the offensive end. At the next stoppage of play, officials made one last effort to clean up a damp spot on the court but ultimately got together with both coaches and decided to call the game.

Glass, who banged his knee and came up limping a bit when he fell, had no complaints.

“It was very slippery. I was trying to fight through it, and every trip back and forth we were sliding,” Glass said. “I enjoyed the game and competing against our rival, but it was hard to have some traction. Right before they called it I had fallen and hit my knee, so it was about time for them to call it.”

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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