Warren Central edges out Natchez

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

VICKSBURG &045; Marcus Harvey’s thundering dunk as time expired delivered a message to the rest of the district: Warren Central is not a pushover.

The Vikings came back in the second half to defeat Natchez 59-45 Friday night for their third consecutive win. Brian Phelps scored a game-high 15 points for WC, and Chico Hunter added 12 points and nine rebounds.

After a big victory Tuesday over defending Class 5A state champion Vicksburg, Natchez (4-6, 1-1) fell victim to poor shooting against Warren Central. The Bulldogs finished 17-of-58 (.293) shooting and 5-of-20 (.250) from behind the arc.

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Warren Central (4-8, 1-0) claimed first place in District 6 with a win in its district-opening game.

&uot;We kind of made a goal for ourselves before the holidays to go on a little winning streak so we could get some momentum going into the second half of the season, because that’s when our district games are,&uot; Phelps said.

&uot;Really what that was was a statement game for us because people have been overplaying us about our record.&uot;

WC coach Jesse Johnson agreed the game was important in the early season.

&uot;That was one of the biggest ones that we’ve had all year,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;Whenever you can get that first district game under your belt and it’s a win, you’re one up on everybody else.&uot;

Natchez came out strong in the first quarter, taking a 17-10 lead. The Bulldogs increased the lead to 28-15 midway through the second, helped by a combined 17 first-half points from DaMorris Merrick and Greg Purnell.

Late in the second quarter, the Vikings switched to a 2-3 zone that seemed to confuse and slow down the Natchez offense. The Bulldogs shot 5-of-24 (.208) from the field in the second half.

&uot;It didn’t really give us any trouble,&uot; Natchez forward Keyshun Tensley said. &uot;It’s just that we weren’t executing enough.&uot;

Warren Central girls 65, Natchez 52

Cookie Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Lady Vikes jumped out to an early lead and cruised to victory.

Despite playing without starting point guard Saleda Montgomery, who was out with the flu, Warren Central shot a blistering 47 percent from the field.