Late swoon pushes Vikings to brink of elimination in Region 4-6A tourney

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2019

CLINTON — If four meetings this season have proved anything with Warren Central and Provine, it’s that the margin between them is razor thin. Whenever they’ve played it hasn’t always been the better team that’s won, so much as the one that happened to be ahead when time expired.

Warren Central missed its opportunity — four of them, to be exact — to be that team on Tuesday night and paid the price.

The Vikings missed four game-winning shots in the last 10 seconds of regulation, then didn’t make any field goals in overtime as they lost 46-40 to Provine in the first round of the MHSAA Region 4-6A boys basketball tournament.

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It was Provine’s third win over Warren Central (14-14) in four meetings this season, and its largest margin of victory. The four games between the teams were decided by a total of 15 points.

“If you’ve watched any of these games we’ve played against them, it’s always been like that. Going back and forth. It usually comes down to who gets that last shot to win it,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “It’s a coin toss. We’re going to trade baskets. We’ll make a run and then they’ll make a run. You’ve got to be able to answer, and we weren’t able to answer there late.”

The penalty for Warren Central’s loss is a trip to the consolation game against Greenville Friday at 5:30 p.m. The loser is eliminated from the postseason, while the winner advances to play in the Class 6A state tournament.

Provine (18-9) will play Clinton (19-9) in the Region 4-6A tournament championship game Friday at 8:30 p.m. Both teams clinched a spot in the state tournament with their wins on Tuesday. Clinton, the tournament host, beat Greenville 61-45.

“This district is tough. They’re (Greenville) relentless. We’ve got to contain their point guard and hopefully we’ll get ours back by then and we can make them beat us from the outside,” Robinson said. “If we can get by Greenville and come out of this in third, it’s not that bad. All you want to do is extend your season.”

The Warren Central vs. Provine semifinal figured to be close, given their history, and was. Neither team ever led by more than six points, and it was a one-point game both at halftime and heading into the fourth quarter.

Jalen Glass came up with a steal and a dunk, and then converted a three-point play with 2:19 left in regulation to put Warren Central ahead 39-37. Provine tied it a minute later, however, and then Warren Central spent the last 90 seconds squandering opportunities.

The Vikings missed five shots near the basket during one sequence with about 1:20 remaining. In the final 10 seconds, Glass missed a 3-pointer and forwards Jabari Bowman and Chris Greene couldn’t convert three chances to put the offensive rebound back in. The game went to overtime tied at 39, and from there Provine took control.

Deion Smith grabbed a rebound, made a difficult shot as he was fouled, and then sank the free throw to put Provine ahead 44-40 with 1:06 left. The Vikings missed two 3-pointers on their ensuing possession and committed a turnover on an inbounds pass with less than 30 seconds to go.

Smith got the steal on the bad inbounds pass, was fouled, and made two free throws to give Provine a 46-40 lead with 23.7 seconds left. Warren Central was called for an intentional foul on the play, giving possession back to Provine. D’Audray Gilliard was fouled again and missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Vikings a glimmer of hope.

Glass missed a 3-pointer, however. Provine got the rebound and was able to dribble out the clock.

In all, a single free throw by Greene midway through overtime was the only point Warren Central scored in the last six minutes of the game. They were also 12-for-23 at the free throw line in the game.

Glass led Warren Central with 13 points, Bowman scored 10 and Greene had seven. Ro’Darien Pendleton led Provine with 19 points and Smith scored 15 — including five of the Rams’ seven points in overtime, as well as a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter that allowed them to stop a Warren Central run.

Robinson said the late cold spell was caused, in part, by the absence of starting point guard Daniel Smothers. Smothers suffered a thigh bruise in the first quarter and did not return. Without him, Robinson said, the offense was clunky and disorganized.

“We couldn’t get in our stuff. Not having our starting point guard hurt a lot. The kids did a great job of getting us to overtime, because when Daniel goes down we don’t know what’s going on,” Robinson said. “They gave us a chance to win at the end. We did go cold, but we really couldn’t get into our sets.”

(G) Clinton 74, Warren Central 34
Even with their best player, the Warren Central Lady Vikes had a difficult task in beating Clinton on its home floor in the Region 4-6A girls’ tournament. Without her, they had almost no chance.

Kim McBride finished with 19 points and five steals, and Tamara Alexander had 13 points and five assists as Clinton (20-8) routed Warren Central (10-16) for the third time this season.

Clinton won all three meetings between the teams by at least 27 points and advanced to the tournament championship game Friday at 7 p.m. against undefeated Greenville. Greenville beat Provine 70-38 in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Warren Central will play Provine Friday at 4 p.m. in the consolation game, with the winner advancing to the Class 6A state tournament. The Lady Vikes will have to win without leading scorer Aniya Sanders, however.

Sanders, who averages more than 20 points per game, tore the MCL and ACL in her right knee in last week’s regular-season finale against Terry. She is out for the rest of this season and likely part of the next one.

Besides her scoring, Sanders was the most experienced player on a roster loaded with freshmen and sophomores. Warren Central coach Darein Hilliard said those who are left must step up their game for the team to have a chance at advancing to the state tournament.

“We’re going to approach this game Friday with all hands on deck. We need every single one of them to get their minds and bodies right to go out there and play. It’s win or go home, and Aniya ain’t coming through the door,” Darein Hilliard said. “That’s just the bottom line. Hopefully they’re not ready for their season to end and we’ll get to see what this state tournament is like. Maybe they’ll see that they like it.”

Without Sanders, the Lady Vikes were no match for a talented Clinton squad. McBride hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 of her 19 points in the first quarter as the Lady Arrows raced to a 31-11 lead. It was 52-15 at halftime.

Clinton had 23 steals in the game, with nine players recording at least one.
Zykerri Segrest scored eight points — all in the first half — for Warren Central, while Alaila Bracey and Ashlea Rainey also finished with eight apiece.

At Clinton High School
Friday – Consolation games

4 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Provine (Girls)
5:30 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Greenville (Boys)
Friday – Championship games
7 p.m. – Clinton vs. Greenville (Girls)
8:30 p.m. – Provine vs. Clinton (Boys)

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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