Tigers earn monumental win at Itawamba

Northeast Mississippi Community College men’s basketball coach David Robbins knew knocking off rival Itawamba in the Davis Event Center in Fulton would be a challenge.
However, the Tiger mentor knew his team was up for the challenge and Northeast was able to walk away with its first win in Fulton in almost eight years, as the Tigers knocked off the Indians 67-63 to move to 3-1 in the North Division.
“Several of our guys stepped up and gave us the opportunity to win,” Robbins said. “It seems like when we had to have a play one of our guys stepped up and gave us the opportunity to win the ball game.”
Itawamba clung to a one-point lead with one minute remaining in the contest but Northeast was able to go on a spurt in the final 60 seconds and seal its first win in Fulton since Feb. 20, 2003 when Northeast knocked off Itawamba 72-69.
“It is a totally different environment when you play them down there,” Robbins said. “It’s a division game, a rivalry and some teams don’t have to contend with what we contended with.”
AfterItawamba’s Wendell Williams gave the Indians a 63-62 advantage with a minute remaining, Tyler Pritchard (Iuka) put the visitors up for good with a layup at the 45 second mark and converted on one of two shots from the charity stripe 15 seconds later.
Northeast freshman Robert Wade (Nashville, Tenn.) came up with a steal and dunk in the final 24 seconds to seal the win for the Tigers.
“Robert really picked up his play in the second half,” Robbins said. “He has the ability to go and get us some baskets that we really need.”
Wade kept Northeast in the contest during latter moments by answering each Itawamba basketball.
Afterleading by three with 3:53 remaining following a pair of Kelsey Barnes freethrows, Wade answered with a layup that gave Northeast the lead at 58-57 with 2:30 remaining.
Itawamba rebounded with back-to-back easy buckets by Melvin Morgan and Akeem Caddellbefore Wade corralled the Indians once again with a jumper at the 1:18 mark.
The North Division stretch continues for the Tigers as Northeast faces a pair of league tests in the next coming days. Northeast hosts Mississippi Delta on Thursday, Jan. 20 and East Mississippi in a make-up game on Saturday, Jan. 22.
“I told the guys coming into this week that this week would be one of the hardest that I have seen since I came back with Itawamba, Delta and East Mississippi this week,” Robbins said. “But we are looking forward to the challenge and are taking it one day at a time.”
In the opener, Ricky Ford’s Lady Tigers gave the Lady Indians a good run taking the host team to an extra session before dropping a 77-75 decision.
PatraHubbard (Humboldt, Tenn.) took over for the Lady Tigers in the second half and led Northeast to the a 65-63 lead with 12.5 seconds left in regulation only to see the Ebony Williams rally back the Lady Indians back from the brink and force overtime with a jumper in the closing seconds.
Jameika Hoskins took over for the Lady Indians in overtime tallying eight of her team-high 21 including a pair of free throws with 7.2 seconds left in overtime.
Northeast had a chance to tie the game in the closing ticks and the Lady Tigers got aclean look at a three-pointer that would have won the game but came up justshort giving Itawamba the 77-75 win.
Itawamba captured a 59-58 lead with five minutes to go in the contest after Northeast had expounded on a three-point halftime lead to lead by eight with 7:47 left in the contest.
Hubbard finished the night with a game-high 23 points to lead three Lady Tigers in double digits. Anna Brooke Page (Belmont) had 17 against the Lady Indians while sophomore Amber Johnson (Pine Grove) finished with 13.