Returning football players boost Warren Central’s basketball fortunes

Published 8:47 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The end of football season means basketball season can finally begin in earnest for Warren Central.

Bolstered by eight players returning from the gridiron, Warren Central finished the first leg of its 2023-24 boys basketball schedule by beating Thomas E. Edwards 64-50 Monday in the River City Challenge tournament at Vicksburg High School.

The Vikings (2-5) snapped a three-game losing streak and can now rest and reset the rest of the week for the Thanksgiving break. Their next game is Nov. 28, at Jim Hill in Jackson.

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“It feels good. We’ve got everybody back. The chemistry’s there already. We practiced yesterday, they got the feeling in them, we just played a good game today,” said WC senior guard Gaylon Turner, who scored a game-high 29 points. “This is a good win to bounce back.”

Warren Central’s football season ended in the second round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs last Friday with a 24-7 loss to Grenada. The basketball team was without its football players for a 60-56 loss at Harrison Central on Saturday, and they were not expected to contribute much Monday either. Coach Keith Williams said he’d have preferred to be without them for a couple more weeks, in fact, if it meant they were playing for a football state championship on Dec. 1.

A good practice with the full roster on Sunday led to an expanded role for them against Thomas E. Edwards, however, and the added depth was a difference-maker.

The eight football players combined for 21 points. Garrett Orgas led the group with 10 points and Jaylon Winters scored six.

More than their scoring, Williams said the productive minutes the football players provided was invaluable. The Vikings only had seven players in uniform for their first six games.

“My goal was to practice one hour and go home. They didn’t want to go home. They said, ‘Let’s make it normal.’ These were the football guys,” Williams said. “Overall, I think it’s going to help. It’s a breath of fresh air to have them. knowing we can look down on the bench and have somebody to rotate. Gaylon was probably averaging 31.9 minutes a game.”

The players who have been with the Vikings all along did their share on Monday, as well. Turner had his second game in a row with at least 20 points, Anaias Thompson scored eight and Jonathan Henderson four.

Turner scored 15 points in the second half as the Vikings pulled away. They used a 10-2 run in the third quarter to open a 46-35 lead after trailing by two at halftime.

Another run in the fourth quarter, capped by back-to-back steals converted into layups by Turner and Winters, made it 64-48 with 2:49 left and put the Tigers away.

Marcus Walls led Thomas E. Edwards (3-2) with 11 points, while Quinton Williams made three 3-pointers and scored nine.

“We’re passing the ball more, we’re not selfish. We want everybody to score,” Turner said. “We don’t care who’s got the most points, who’s got the most rebounds. Just go out there and play ball. Play defense.”

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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