By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Nanci Gray hopes her Itawamba Lady Indians basketball team can finish strong in the race for an MACJC North Division championship … starting today.
Gray’s team returns to the court at 6 p.m. against division rival Northeast on the Tigers’ homecourt – Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
ICC (15-7, 7-2), which has won six of its last seven games and 12 of its last 14, has two road games this week, including a Thursday trip to Holmes, before returning home to close the regular season against Mississippi Delta.
“We just need to do a good job in these final division games,” said Gray, whose team split this season with division leader Northwest (8-1). “These are three key games and we’ve got two of them on the road.
“The road in junior college basketball is not a pleasant place to be.”
Northeast (5-12, 3-6) was a 77-49 loser to division leader Northwest last Thursday in Senatobia.
ICC’s women defeated Northeast, 84-48, in Fulton Jan. 14.
“There are teams with more talented kids, but our players are playing hard,” Gray said. “They’re doing the things defensively that you need to do. Lori Crudup’s been doing a great job night in and night out. We’ve also had kids coming off the bench and playing their roles.”
Crudup scored 22 points in ICC’s recent 57-53 win against East Mississippi.
Indians, Tigers tied
In the men’s game, scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff, ICC (13-8, 5-4) is looking to stop a two-game losing streak.
The Indians lost to Northwest, 95-77, and division leader East Mississippi, 83-61, last week.
The two losses ended ICC’s hopes of winning a fourth consecutive regular season division title.
“I was really disappointed with our fight the last eight minutes of this game,” ICC coach Marty Cooper said after Thursday’s home loss to division leader East Mississippi. “We’ve got a good, solid tradition here at Itawamba and I’ve got to find some guys who want to play for that pride of our program down the stretch this season.”
Northeast (10-9, 5-4) is tied with ICC for second in the division behind East Mississippi (8-1). The Tigers lost 68-60 to Northwest last week.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal com