Bulldogs fall apart late as Warren Central winsBy ADAM DAIGLE

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 20, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; Don’t underestimate the power of being 1-0 in division.

Not when the first win comes on the road. Not when you have to come back from 12 points down. And not when you’re in a just a four-team division.

Not convinced?

Email newsletter signup

Here’s Natchez High sitting at 0-2 in Division 4-5A following their 68-61 loss at home Friday to Warren Central. The Bulldogs held a 12-point lead early and managed to get ahead late in the third quarter.

Sure 0-2 doesn’t sound good, but the Bulldogs are determined to make it sound better.

&uot;Coming into this game, we really thought we were going to win,&uot; Bulldogs guard Leon Stewart said. &uot;Losing this game, it doesn’t hurt us. But we’re going to come back strong. The next district games we’ve got to start winning. We’ve got to come together as a team.&uot;

So give credit to the Vikings for sticking to the plan in the second half and fighting back to win a division game on the road. They forced the turnovers in the second half, settled into a zone defense in the halfcourt and cut off as much penetration to the basket as they could.

But the turnovers turned into easy baskets, and that turned into a lead on the scoreboard.

&uot;It’s always important to get off to a good start,&uot; Warren Central head coach Preston Wilson said. &uot;With the first one on the road, that makes a big difference. We made some adjustments at half in our press, and those adjustments made a big difference because they were getting a lot of easy baskets early in the ball game.

&uot;And we were able to keep them to one shot in the second half. They had got a lot of extra shots.&uot;

The Vikings chipped away at the lead all through the third quarter but didn’t get over the hump until two minutes in. Their lead got up to seven with 5:09 left on a bucket from Seddrick Williams before Natchez &045; or more specifically, Derrick Martin &045; scored six straight points to cut the lead to one.

Martin’s last bucket came at the 4:14 mark, but the Bulldogs got only two field goals after that as the turnovers came in bunches.

&uot;We went into the half with a lot of momentum, and we came back with the same momentum,&uot; Stewart said. &uot;I guess the momentum slowed down, and the team lost its confidence. The first half we handled the press. The second half they came back with a different press, and we weren’t adjusting to it.&uot;

Dewayne Washington followed Martin’s basket with one of his own after the Vikings got a steal, and it set off a 10-2 run that put the Bulldogs away. Only a 3-pointer from DaMorris Merrick with nine seconds left kept the lead from being double digits.

&uot;We were in a matchup (zone), and we did a better job of cutting off penetration,&uot; Wilson said. &uot;In the first half we weren’t doing a good job. They did a good job with our press (in the first half). That’s our main thing &045; pressing &045; and they did a good job of breaking it.&uot;

The Bulldogs went into halftime holding a 38-32 lead after holding a 25-13 lead early in the second quarter. The Vikings got a 3-pointer from Ronnie Jones to start the second half and start a 8-2 run that got the lead tied at 40-40 on a bucket from Chi-Chi Ezewke with 4:37 left.

The Bulldogs got the lead to three points on a basket from Greg Purnell with 2:22 left. The Vikings scored six straight points to take a three-point lead before Martin converted on a three-point play with two seconds left in the quarter to put the score tied at 47-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

&uot;We started off real well,&uot; Natchez guard Ronald Calcote said. &uot;The turnovers at the end hurt us. We started looking sluggish at the end. We started worrying about scoring and not running our plays. If we could have worried about running the plays, we would have been in it.

&uot;We’re getting better. We’re improving. We’ve got to keep our composure until the end of the game and not turn the ball over.&uot;

Natchez girls 71, Warren Central 50

The Lady Bulldogs didn’t pull any punches. And that’s what Warren Central was worried about.

It’s the press that Natchez can run well, and the Lady Bulldogs created havoc with it to take a 71-50 win over the Lady Vikings Friday night in Division 4-5A play.

The win made up for the Lady Bulldogs’ loss to open division earlier this month when they dropped their bout with Vicksburg.

&uot;Their press gave us problems,&uot; Warren Central head coach Donny Fuller said. &uot;They’re really quick. It wasn’t anything we weren’t expecting. We knew they like to press.&uot;

Never did it hurt Warren Central more than in the second quarter when the Lady Bulldogs held a 20-9 advantage following a 10-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.

After Warren Central got a three-point play to start the quarter from Cookie Johnson, the Lady Bulldogs got one of their own from Gloria Lewis to start an 11-2 run that Lewis finished with a bucket at the 4:55 mark for a 21-12 lead.

Warren Central converted one of four free throws, and Natchez followed that with a 9-3 run to end the quarter. Crystal L. Brown &045; who finished with 20 points &045; hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to give Natchez a 30-16 halftime lead.

&uot;We’re young this year,&uot; Fuller said. &uot;We’re starting three sophomore and two juniors, and we’ve got three sophomores that play a good bit. The best thing about sophomores is they get two more years, but the sophomores put a lot of gray hairs on a coach’s head.&uot;

Cookie Johnson led Warren Central with 13 points.