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Late run propels Vikings past Madison Central

This season — particularly the portion of it played in 2020 — has been an uphill slog for the Warren Central Vikings.

Wins have been hard to come by. Positive momentum has been fleeting.

With three phenomenal minutes on Friday night, however, they came out the other side exactly the way they hoped they would.

The Vikings outscored Madison Central 13-2 over the last 3 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter to steal a 57-54 victory — as well as the No. 3 seed in the MHSAA Region 4-6A tournament and precious momentum heading into the postseason.

Warren Central (12-13, 2-4 Region 4-6A) snapped a four-game losing streak and won for only the second time in nine games since New Year’s. It will face Murrah in the opening round of the region tournament, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Murrah.

Warren Central and Murrah split their two meetings this season, with each winning on their home floor.

“That gives us momentum. It gives the kids confidence. And it does put us in a favorable matchup,” Warren Central coach Bruce Robinson said. “That puts us in third, which means we play Murrah on Tuesday and get an extra day to prepare.”

Daniel Smothers led Warren Central with 21 points, Travis Williams scored nine, and Jabari Bowman had eight. Smothers had 16 of his points in the second half, and Bowman scored six of his eight in the fourth quarter.

Justin Storm led Madison Central (13-14, 1-5) with 12 points and Jalin Rice had nine.
Warren Central opened the game with a four-minute scoreless drought. It only fell behind 8-0, but spent the rest of the game trying to catch up. Madison Central went on a run every time the Vikings got close and led 46-36 heading into the fourth quarter. The Jaguars still were up by eight midway through the final period.

Finally, a couple of big baskets and an effective press started to turn things in the Vikings’ favor. Williams hit a 3-pointer and Bowman dunked to bring the crowd to life and cut it to 52-49 with 2:11 remaining.

A steal and layup by Smothers pulled them within a point, and a heads-up play by Randy Clark resulted in the go-ahead basket with 1:05 to go. Seeing no one between he and the goal, Clark passed up a long jumper from the right corner to drive in for an uncontested layup.

“Storm and Rice are two good players, and when they went out it allowed us to press a little bit. They had a couple of young players out there. I think that was the difference. And I think we decided we were going to get that ball inside,” Robinson said.

Warren Central tacked on a couple more baskets to lead 57-54 and stretch its game-deciding run to 13-2. Rice missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the last 13 seconds and the clock ran out before the Jaguars could launch a third.

“I think this was a real good team win tonight,” Robinson said. “I think it’s what we’ve been fighting for, just to get a favorable matchup in the district.”

(G) Madison Central 48, Warren Central 34
Jamyiyah Cotton scored 19 of her team-high 21 points in the second half, Kennedy Ransom added 12, and Madison Central (18-8, 2-4 Region 4-6A) surged past Warren Central (8-14, 0-6) in the second half for a 14-point victory.

Zy’Kerri Segrest scored a game-high 22 points for Warren Central, which suffered its 10th consecutive loss but still took some positives away from this one and into the Region 4-6A girls’ tournament next week.

The Lady Vikes led 15-13 at halftime and cut down on some of the turnovers that had been leading to lopsided losses. A thin bench ran out of gas, but on the whole coach Darein Hilliard said it was an encouraging night.

Warren Central will play top-seeded Clinton in the first round of the region tournament Monday at 6 p.m. at Murrah. Madison Central will play Murrah on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“When you’re dealing with youth, you just never know what you’re going to get,” Hilliard said. “Tonight they came out and I think they gave it all they had. They didn’t crack. They just came out and they played, they played together, and that’s all you can hope for going into the tournament. We looked we had a really good chance to knock them off tonight.”

In other games Friday, Vicksburg and Brookhaven split a girls-boys doubleheader. Brookhaven edged Vicksburg 63-61 in the girls’ game, while Vicksburg rolled to a 95-57 victory in the boys’ game.

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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