Slow start plagues Warren Central again

Published 6:47 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

RIDGELAND — The Warren Central Vikings are well aware of their tendency to start slow in games. They have some theories for why it happens. On some level, they’re even coming to accept that it’s part of their team’s DNA.

They still haven’t figured out how to avoid it.

The Vikings only scored 14 points in the first half, fell behind by 15 early in the second, and had a fourth-quarter comeback sputter out as they lost 56-47 to Terry on Saturday at the Ridgeland Titans Shootout.

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Warren Central (4-8) lost for the sixth time in seven games. It hasn’t scored more than 24 points in the first half of five of those losses.

“It may be characteristic of our program. I’ve noticed we have slow starts. We’re having problems scoring the ball. I think what P.J. Mims did at least helped us stay in it,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “We don’t look for excuses, but it has been exam week. We’ve had limited practice, we’ve had distracted practice. We may be looking toward Jan. 4. But we have to get our point guards to the point where they’re really controlling our offense.”

Mims, Warren Central’s point guard, scored 11 points in the game and had eight of the team’s 14 first-half points. Jabari Bowman also scored 11 points and Jalen Glass led the Vikings with 14 despite playing the second half with a sprained ankle.

Warren Central will conclude its rough December this week in the JPS Pepsi Holiday Tournament in Jackson. It will take on Murrah in the first round, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and play at least one more game after that before facing Greenville in its Region 4-6A opener on Jan. 4.

Robinson said the team’s goal for the tournament is as much to come out of it healthy as to win it.

“We want to go over and make some noise. We want to play well, because we always talk about being able to play well going into the district and building momentum,” Robinson said. “But the worst case scenario is we get somebody hurt going into January. We don’t want that. We need some rest. We played a busy schedule, especially this week and early on. Some of the players that are playing a lot are coming off of football. We have to be more strategic in our scheduling, I think.”

Warren Central lost in the Ridgeland Shootout for the first time since 2013, and largely had its slow start to blame. After taking an early 3-2 lead, the Vikings allowed Terry to go on an 8-0 run and never led again. They only scored six points in the second quarter, and trailed 26-14 at halftime after Terry’s Darien Newchurch and Raymond Adams converted fast break layups in the final minute.

A 3-pointer by Kristarrio Jordan pushed Terry’s lead to 29-14 in the opening moments of the third quarter.

Newchurch led Terry (8-8) with 18 points. Jordan hit three 3-pointers in the game and scored 11, while Brayden Wade finished with nine.

“We started off slow in the first half. We were making simple mistakes and turning the ball over a lot. We dug ourselves a hole,” Glass said. “But I liked the effort we gave. We fought back. We play up and down a lot. We need to play up.”

Following Jordan’s 3-pointer, the Vikings finally started to pull it together. A 7-0 run got the deficit back into single digits, but Newchurch hit another trey to make it 32-21 with five minutes left in the third quarter.

In the fourth, Glass got hot to power one last charge for the Vikings. He scored 10 straight points, including two 3-pointers, to pull them within 46-43 with 4:35 left in the game.

That was as close as they got.

Terry hit five free throws down the stretch and held the Vikings to one basket — a putback by Mims with 2:02 remaining — over the last four minutes. Warren Central had two turnovers and missed three shots on its last five possessions.

“I was just trying to fight. I was trying to give my team some momentum, and they gave me some momentum. They hit some shots,” Glass said of his personal run. “Right at the end we made a couple of turnovers and took a couple of shots that didn’t fall. We were in the middle of our run then. (Terry) hit shots and got some fouls and we lost momentum right at the end. But we had it flowing. We’ve got to get better at closing out games.”

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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