Northeast splits season opener

Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Tiger and Lady Tiger basketball teams showed that they would be a force to reckon with in the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges.

David Robbins’ Tigers knocked off the high-powered Wallace State Lions 81-54 while Brian Alexander’s Lady Tigers took the Lady Lions to the brink in their season opener before falling in a heartbreaker 75-73.

In the opener, Alexander’s Lady Tigers used a 22-2 run during the second half to get back into the game after Wallace State had jumped out to a 45-37 advantage with 15:44 left in the game.

Anna Brooke Page helped the Lady Tigers knot the game at 47-all with 13:09 left when the sophomore converted on an old-fashioned three point play and four quick points by Amber Jackson and Page brought the crowd in Bonner Arnold Coliseum to its feet as the Lady Tigers captured a 51-47 advantage just 30 seconds later.

During the run, Alexander was also able to place four state champions on the floor at the same time. Ripley’s India Howard and Shunquest Howell, New Albany’s Kebrina Lucas and Belmont’s Page all appeared on the floor at the same time for the Lady Tigers as Northeast battled back over Wallace State.

With the championship presence, Northeast was able to take the Lady Lions down to the last play of the game to determine the winner –a team that advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Basketball Tournament in 2010-11 with a 20-9 record.

Northeast kept the pressure on the Lady Lions and held a precarious four-point lead with five minutes to play at 65-61 and watched as Wallace State chipped away at the lead with a 10-4 run that saw the Lady Lions take a 71-69 advantage with just over a minute remaining.

Howell’s layup with 1:08 remaining knotted the contest at 71-all. Both teams swapped baskets with under a minute remaining as Wallace State’s Arkia Armstrong knocked down a jumper with 47.6 left and Amber Jackson helped the Lady Tigers knot the contest at 73-all with a deuce with 26.3 showing.

However, Wallace State found a hole in the Northeast defense with 9.1 left as Melissa Johnson stuck in a backside layup with 9.1 remaining for the final digits but Northeast would not go down without a fight as the Lady Tigers final two shots came close to sending the game into overtime.

Page led the Lady Tigers with 23 while Jackson chipped in 17 and Lucas finished with 10 for Northeast. Nikki McChristian was big on the boards for the Lady Tigers finishing with 10 rebounds (five offensive, five defensive).

In the nightcap, Robbins’ Tigers captured their first season opening win since knocking off Shelton State during the PSP Industries Tip-Off Class in Fulton on October 31, 2008.

Ripley’s Acie Vance led the way for the Tigers with 27 points in his first outing as a collegiate Tiger. Vance had 17 at the break and also chipped in with nine rebounds.

Northeast raced out early against the visiting Lions and held a 21-10 lead with 13:33 left in the first half behind Vance and sophomores Jermaine Hollimon and Cedric Janes.

Hollimon finished the night with 17 while Janes 11 points and a pair of dunks in the second half.

Northeast kept the pressure on Wallace State and took a 39-27 lead into the break after leading 34-19 with five minutes remaining in the first half.

Northeast kept pushing the lead against the Lions expanding it out to a 24-point advantage with 9:27 left in the game and holding a 28-point lead with 4:20 left in the contest.

Northeast’s basketball teams will be back in action on Saturday, November 5 at 2 p.m. as the Tigers and Lady Tigers make the trek to Decatur to take on East Central before returning home for a doubleheader against Arkansas Baptist on Monday, November 7. Tip for Monday’s contest against the Buffaloes and Lady Buffaloes is set for 5 p.m.

These games will not be on the internet broadcast due to the Northeast football playoff game being played on the same day.