By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – For his first contest on the Northeast Lady Tigers’ bench, Brian Alexander had a hard challenge in defending Region 23 champion Wallace State.
The Lady Tigers came within a field goal of giving Alexander his first victory as head coach, as the Lady Lions slid to a 75-73 win Thursday in the season opener for both squads.
“This was a great building block for the program for this season,” said Alexander, who replaced Ricky Ford. “I thought our defensive intensity was good, we just came up short.
“It’s good to get the first game out of the way. Now we can settle down and get to playing basketball.”
For a season-opener, this contest had some quality moments, and momentum swings. In the second half, Northeast had a 22-2 run, but that was sandwiched by 10-0, and 9-0 runs by Wallace. At the end of that last run, the Lady Tigers held a 59-58 lead with 6 minutes, 31 seconds to play.
The contest went back and forth from there, with Wallace gaining the edge at 75-73 with 9 seconds remaining on a Melissa Johnson layup off guard penetration. Northeast had a set shot, and a rebound and putback attempt at tying the affair, but fell short in the effort.
Anna Brooke Page from Belmont paced the Lady Tigers offense with 23 points, while Haley Stewart hit 14 to lead Wallace.
(M) Northeast 79, Wallace 54: Though the Tigers appeared rusty at times, that certainly was not indicated in the final margin.
Ripley freshman guard Acie Vance was stellar in his first contest with 25 points, 17 in the first half as Northeast built a 39-27 lead.
Jamalcolm Griffin paced Wallace with 20 points.
Thewin marked the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Tigers have won their season opener.
ICC, Lawson split
FULTON – Itawamba and Lawson State split their basketball openers on Tuesday night.
The ICC women won 82-56 behind 20 points from Shay Bonner. Vechatita Bonner (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Jameika Hoskins (15, 10) added double-doubles.
Lawson’s men won 108-82 as ICC was led by 13 points each from Deontaye Ewing and Tyrone McNeese.