By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – For a second semester opener in the junior college basketball ranks of Mississippi, the ICC Indians’ first game of the year drew a bit more interest than usual.
The reason? The college debut of former Okolona standout D. J. Gardner.
Shaking off some rust, the freshman managed 15 points, but the Indians dropped the contest Tuesday 93-68 to the Jones County Bobcats.
Gardner finished 6 of 17 from the floor.
“This is Jan. 10, which for him is Nov. 1,” said Itawamba head coach Marty Cooper of the Mississippi State transfer who had to sit out the first semester. “You can’t expect him to be in mid-season form, and it’s going to take him a couple of weeks to get there.
“We were 4-6 coming in here for a reason, and we haven’t been guarding people and taking care of the basketball. I was really disappointed in our defensive effort tonight.”
For the better part of the first half, the contest was fairly even, with Gardner missing his first shot, then hitting a 3-pointer on his second with just over two minutes gone.
Itawamba was leading 27-24 following an Anthony McDonald 3-pointer and free throws from Tre Wells. Then Jones ripped off an 11-0 run on the way to a 40-32 halftime lead.
The Indians (4-7) never could make a serious dent in the margin the rest of the way.
McDonald paced ICC with 21 points.
(W) Itawamba 88, Jones 59: The Lady Indians (9-2) roared to an early 24-10 lead and never looked back. LaPrecious Naylon paced ICC with 23.
Both Itawamba squads continue North Division warm-up hosting Co-Lin Thursday, then open North play on the road Monday at Mississippi Delta.