By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Tigers got a five-day boot camp in preparation for the remainder of the regular season.
Playing their third contest in five days, the Tigers moved to a smart 68-53 victory Wednesday over the Columbia State (Tn.) Chargers.
“To win all three is a bonus,” said Northeast head coach David Robbins, who saw his Tigers improve to 10-1. “This gave us an opportunity to get back in game condition before North Division play starts next week.”
With an offensive attack guided by freshmen guards Acie Vance from Ripley and Deonta Hermon from Corinth, the Tigers roared to an 10-0 lead early with 3-pointers by each.
“I feel those two are better than your average freshmen,” Robbins said. “We came out of the gates fast, then we had too many turnovers, which gave them an opportunity to get back in it.”
Columbia (7-6) did get back the contest, holding a three point lead at the half, and a 36-31 margin after the first basket of the second half. A 3-pointer and a free throw by Vance got Northeast going in a positive direction, and free throws by Lavon Hooks gave the Tigers their first lead of the period at 43-42.
Seconds later, Northeast ripped off an 11-0 run, with Vance tallying 10 of those points, giving the Tigers a 54-44 advantage with 7 minutes, 12 seconds to play.
Columbia did cut the margin to 56-50 with 5:01 left on a Lester Gude 3-pointer, but that was as close as the visitors came.
“I didn’t think we played great defense, but at times we caused them problems,” Robbins said. “That’s just the way this league has unfolded, there are no easy games out there.”
Vance paced the Tigers offense with 24, and Hooks added 16 points and 15 rebounds. Gude led Columbia with 16.
(W) Columbia 84, Northeast 72: The visiting Lady Chargers (9-4) pulled out to a bit of lead late in the first half, and the Lady Tigers (5-7) could not respond.
One of the top scorers in the nation, Kelva Atkins hit 20 points for Columbia, while Amber Jackson of Tupelo was tops for Northeast with 22.
Both Northeast squads open North Division play Monday at East Mississippi.