Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No. 1 Central girls rout No. 2 Whitehaven

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On most occasions, when a team goes on the road and wins by 35 points, as the top-ranked Central girls basketball team did Tuesday night at No. 2 Whitehaven, 76-41, you would expect the coach of the winning squad to have mostly a positive assessment of the game.

That was not the case for Lady Warriors coach Niki Bray who, despite her team earning a lopsided District 16-AAA win against a team many expect to challenge for the district crown, admittedly was displeased with her players’ overall showing.

“We did not come ready to play,” Bray said. “It’s not about the score. They’re not playing the way they are capable of playing. We didn’t execute defensively and we didn’t execute offensively. We didn’t do a lot of what we discussed.”

Still, the Lady Warriors (13-4, 5-0 in Dist. 16-AAA and No. 1 in The Commercial Appeal's Dandy Dozen) earned their 12th consecutive win over Whitehaven (15-4, 3-2 and No. 2 ranked) dating back to the 2006-07 season and, most importantly, took a two-game lead in the District 16-AAA standings.

The Lady Tigers led 14-11 early in the game after a 10-0 run keyed by senior forward Latia Coleman’s consecutive 3-point baskets.

However, Central, the defending Class AAA state champions, wasted little time regrouping, despite playing its third game in as many days. The Lady Warriors, ranked No. 11 nationally in the latest ESPNU HoopGurlz Top 50 poll released Jan 8, got six points by Georgia Tech signee Aaliyah Whiteside during an 8-0 run to regain the lead they would never relinquish.

Central relied on a balanced offensive attack to build a commanding 38-20 lead at the half.

Central’s Nina Davis, a four-star player who is the 58th overall prospect in the ESPNU HoopGurlz Top 100 for the class of 2013, led all scorers with 22 points, Whiteside scored 16 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and Tia Wooten added 14 for the Lady Warriors.

Coleman was the lone Lady Tiger to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points, eight of which came during Whitehaven’s rally in the opening quarter.

Prior to the game, Whitehaven coach Johnny Luckett said among his main concerns was whether his players would have tired legs after playing over the weekend in a MLK tournament in St. Louis and arriving back to Memphis at approximately 11 p.m. Monday after a six-hour bus ride.

“But I told them Central had the same schedule,” said Luckett, “so being tired shouldn’t be an excuse.”

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