WC girls oust Lady Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 1, 2004

VICKSBURG &045; The Warren Central Lady Vikings came out tense, but once they relaxed the game was theirs.

After committing six turnovers and missing its first 10 shots, top-seeded Warren Central came back to defeat fourth-seeded Natchez 51-46 in the opening round of the Division 6-5A Tournament on Tuesday.

Warren Central (20-8) advances to face Forest Hill in the championship game on Friday. The Lady Rebels defeated Vicksburg earlier in the day.

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&uot;In the first half, we came out and we were really tight,&uot; WC coach Donny Fuller said. &uot;We’re the No. 1 seed and the pressure was on us. I think our kids let it get to them. I kept telling them to just relax and play.&uot;

Wennifer Noble paced the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points, and Mable Green added 10.

Coming on strong in the end after a 1-of-11 first half, Cookie Johnson led the Lady Vikes with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Carla Latham added 10 for WC.

&uot;Everybody was just a little bit too ready to play,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;Everybody got uptight. We needed to get looser and get calm.&uot;

Both teams shot below 30 percent for the game and turned the ball over 20 times, but the Lady Vikes held a 48-35 rebounding advantage. The free-throw line also made a difference with WC making 19 of 28 (68 percent) and Natchez hitting only 10 of 22.

&uot;We didn’t take advantage of the free throws we had. We didn’t take advantage of the inside shots that we got,&uot; said the Lady Bulldogs’ Deleque Drake, who finished with nine points. &uot;They just came out more aggressive.&uot;

The Lady Bulldogs opened with a 10-2 lead early in the first quarter while the Lady Vikes were ice-cold. Warren Central fought back to a 26-25 halftime edge, despite shooting 7 of 38 (18 percent) in the first half.

&uot;When we went in at halftime as bad as we had shot the ball and as bad as I thought we played, and we still had the lead, I felt good about it,&uot; Fuller said. &uot;We kind of got on a roll in the third quarter.&uot;

Helped by eight Natchez turnovers and eight points from Johnson, the Lady Vikes pulled ahead to a 40-29 lead after three quarters.

&uot;It was back and forth there,&uot; NHS coach Steve McClatchy said. &uot;Then we tried a little full-court man and they got some pretty easy buckets off it and made a little run.&uot;

Natchez couldn’t put anything together on the other end as well. The Lady Bulldogs scored four points in the third.

&uot;The best we could do in the fourth quarter was to try to chip away and get close,&uot; McClatchy said.

Natchez trimmed the lead down to four early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Green, but Warren Central stretched it back to eight.

The Lady Bulldogs came back again to chop the lead to 49-44 with less than a minute remaining, but could get no closer.

&uot;We ran their plays the whole time in practice all week long,&uot; Latham said.

&uot;When we do what we need to do, that’s how we shut them down on defense.&uot;