Natchez earns easy win over Warren Central

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Natchez opened district play by making a statement against Warren Central &045; the Bulldogs are going to be serious contenders.

Natchez (6-2) ran Warren Central into the ground with an 80-47 victory that could have been even worse. The Bulldogs beat the Viking press with ease, running on the fast break and playing tough defense.

By the fourth quarter, the only thing in doubt was how many points Natchez would win the game by. The Bulldogs led 66-34 at the start of the final quarter and cruised in to the finish. Bulldog head coach Mike Martin cleared the bench with 4:39 left in the game, letting a number of backups get some playing time.

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That may have contributed to the 13 points Warren Central scored in the final quarter, including three 3-pointers by the Vikings’ Andre Thomas.

&uot;There are games where we shouldn’t have allowed the teams so many points,&uot; Natchez center Marvin Stampley said. &uot;We could have held them down tonight.&uot;

Natchez’s best work was in the second and third quarters, where the Bulldogs outscored Warren Central 41-15. The Bulldogs forced Warren Central away from its full court press by not allowing them to set it up. The Vikings only made five baskets in the middle quarters, giving them few opportunities to set up the press against Natchez.

&uot;We’ve been working on moving the ball quickly, passing it to beat the press,&uot; guard Lajuan Culbert said. &uot;We played together tonight, moving the ball around and creating some shots.&uot;

By contrast, the Bulldogs employed full-court and half-court presses of their own with stunning success, forcing the Vikings’ into turnovers that led to a number of easy baskets for Natchez.

The second quarter was what really broke the game open for the Bulldogs. Warren Central’s Jula Pugh opened the quarter with a bucket. After that, Natchez reeled off 17 unanswered points in part of a 22-4 run that gave the Bulldogs all the cushion they would need.

Natchez started things off fast, with a Rodney Gray layup just seconds after the tip. Gray scored 11 points in the first quarter, helping Natchez get a quick start. Warren Central kept pace early, scoring 19 points of its own in the first, including 10 from Chico Hunter, who led the Vikings with 15 points in the game.

Gray led the Bulldogs with 17. Point guard Tryon Wilson had 14 and Keyshun Tensley added 13.

The Bulldogs also dominated the boards, getting a number of second chances on the offensive end and denying those opportunities to the Vikings at the defensive end.

&uot;They outrebounded us last year, so we didn’t want to let that happen again,&uot; Tensley said.

Tensley, along with Charles Cothern, Stampley and Marvin Gray, pounded the boards for the Bulldogs, making up for the few mistakes the team made on offense.

Even when Natchez didn’t get a fast break chance, the Bulldogs’ offense was up to the task. Point guard Tryon Wilson executed the offense well, moving the ball around and penetrating into the defense and dishing the ball to players for easy layups. Backup Jason Bruce scored seven points in the final quarter playing with essentially the Natchez junior varsity squad.

&uot;We were patient on offense, that got us some good plays,&uot; Stampley said.