By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
On paper, Tuesday’s MACJC State Tournament opener between the Northeast men and Pearl River has the makings for a classic mismatch – in the South team’s favor:
– Pearl River (18-3) is ranked No. 9 by the NJCAA.
– Northeast (10-13) is excited about having the opportunity to keep playing.
“We’re talking to the guys about being hot at the right time,” Northeast coach David Robbins said. “We’re talking to them about picking it up, playing at another level.
“If we go into this tournament with the right mindset, we’re talented enough to compete.”
Northeast, the No. 3 seed, plays Pearl River, the No. 2 seed, at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in the opening round at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson.
ICC (12-11), the No. 4 seed, plays No. 1-seeded Gulf Coast (16-7) at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday. The other men’s matchups pit Mississippi Delta against Jones and East Mississippi against East Central.
The women’s tournament tips off today at the same site.
Northeast (11-11) plays host Co-Lin (19-2) at 6 p.m., followed by ICC (16-6) against Pearl River (11-9) at 7:45. The early women’s game features Holmes against Jones and East Mississippi playing Gulf Coast.
The men’s and women’s semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday while the finals are Thursday.
Robbins said he has seen late-season improvement, even in defeat.
“We lost to Mississippi Delta (61-57) in our last game, but I was pleased with our effort,” he said. “In years past we’ve had teams who have been there in games and couldn’t finish. We’ve had several games this year that could have gone either way and we found a way to win.”
Point guard Tyler Pritchard, who’s averaging 14.6 points per game, has battled an ankle injury, but seems to be healthy for a postseason run.
The Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder is 6-foot-6 freshman forward Robert Wade, who’s averaging 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.
He’ll have a tough task inside against Pearl River’s 6-9 Kentari Nettles and 6-7 Phillip Crawford.
“This time of year it all comes down to matchups,” Robbins said. “This will be a challenge for us.”
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.