By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – It’s a good thing Jameika Hoskins isn’t homesick.
With the 5-foot-10 freshman guard’s help, ICC’s Lady Indians advanced to the semifinals of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament with a 70-64 victory Tuesday afternoon against Baton Rouge at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.
Hoskins poured in 10 of her team-high 13 points in the final six minutes to power ICC.
“Nobody wants to go home after the first round,” she said. “I started off slow, but I knew we had to get a win.”
ICC coach Nanci Gray said Hoskins is usually a slow starter who finishes fast.
“Most of the time, when the game’s on the line, she’s our go-to player,” Gray said. “She makes things happen.”
ICC (18-7) will play Copiah-Lincoln, the state champion, at 6 p.m. today with a trip to Thursday’s championship game awaiting the winner. The Lady Wolves beat Holmes 65-41 in opening-round play.
Co-Lin, ranked No. 8 nationally, defeated the Lady Indians 85-76 last week in the MACJC State Tournament semifinals.
“We’d love to have a rematch against Co-Lin,” said Lady Indians forward Vechatita Bonner, who grabbed nine offensive rebounds – 11 overall – and scored eight points.
It was Bonner’s two putbacks, along with two layups by the shifty Hoskins, in the final two minutes that gave the Indians their winning edge.
“Vechatita made a big impact at the end,” Hoskins said. “She came through with those rebounds and putbacks.”
Baton Rouge (16-11) was led in scoring by its powerful 5-10 inside-outside post player Naketa Roberts, who scored a game-high 26 points.
She was 12 of 20 from the field and connected on two 3-pointers.
One of those perimeter bombs tied the game at 61-61 with 1:59 remaining.
“We did an incredible job in our zone defense and finding Roberts, until she hit that shot late,” Gray said, then smiled. “Credit our kids for stepping up defensively.”
Roberts scored 17 in the first half, but was held in check most of the second half by Bonner.
ICC survived a 14-0 run midway in the first half to rally and cut Baton Rouge’s lead to 34-31 at halftime behind the late-half play by point guard LaPrecious Naylon.
“There’s nothing easy about bringing the ball down against their defense and getting a shot off,” Gray said. “They play really high in the passing lanes.”
Ebony Williams tied Hoskins for the ICC scoring lead with 13 points. Naylon and Shay Bonner added 10 apiece.
The semifinals of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament are today at Mississippi College.
ICC’s men, 87-75 winners Monday against Gulf Coast, play Southern-Shreveport at 2 p.m., while the Lady Indians battle Co-Lin in a rematch of last week’s MACJC State Tournament semifinals.