By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The sidelines for Northeast Community College basketball will certainly have a different look this season.
Gone will be the firm presence of Ricky Ford, whose 30 years at Northeast included a national championship and nine state titles.
Enter Booneville native Brian Alexander as the Lady Tigers head coach.
“The transition has been really, really good, very smooth,” said Alexander, whose junior college experience includes 2006-09 stint as assistant coach at Itawamba.
But that transition comes to a new chapter pretty quickly as the Lady Tigers open their season next Tuesday by hosting Wallace State.
Alexander will be looking to the leadership of sophomores Anna Brooke Page of Belmont and Erin Strowder of Memphis, looking to improve on an 11-12 mark from last season. Together, those two averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds per game a year ago.
Alexander expects eight players in all to battle for the five starting spots. The others will be sophomore Amber Jackson from Tupelo, and freshmen Shunquest Howell from Ripley, Krystal Jackson from New Site, Kebrina Lucas from New Albany, Shervonte Bright from Memphis, and Nikki McChristian from Lafayette.
“Our starting lineup is so fluid, it changes from day to day,” Alexander said. “The biggest key is if we can take it from day to day.
“We have a bunch of freshmen, and a bunch of road games before Christmas. If they will just take it day by day, we’ll survive until after Christmas.”
The Northeast men will also be young, with only three sophomores on the roster – Jermaine Holliman from Memphis, Cedric Jones from Tennessee, and Tyrie Berry from Ripley.
That means sixth-year coach David Robbins will be counting on freshmen early and often.
Three that appear to have an edge for playing time are Deonta Herman from Corinth, Acie Vance from Ripley, and Tadarious Coburn from New Albany.
“I think how well we can defend half court, and how well we rebound, including from the guard position, will determine how successful we are,” Robbins said. “A few of our players are better than your average freshmen, but they still have a learning curve at this level. How quickly they learn will determine what kind of start we have.”