Surging Tigers survive Rangers' comeback effort

BOONEVILLE – Northeast needed all 40 minutes Monday night to defeat MACJC North Division rival Northwest, 79-78, at Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
The visiting Rangers, who erased an 11-point Northeast lead in the second half, just ran out of time.
Everick Morris’ 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining cut the Tigers’ lead to 1-point. Northeast’s Grant Goolsby, fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, then missed both ends of a two-shot foul to give Northwest a slim chance to win.
However, the Rangers didn’t have time – 1.8 seconds following Goolsby’s second miss – to get a shot off at the buzzer.
“We didn’t finish the game like we wanted to, but it’s still a division win,” said Northeast coach David Robbins, whose team led by 11 with 8 minutes left.
“We had a lot of different guys step up and make plays tonight. Tyrie Berry played steady for us and I thought Tyler Pritchard stepped up and made some shots for us.”
Berry, a freshman forward from Ripley, scored 21 points and connected on 11 of 11 free throws to lead Northeast (7-6, 2-1), which has won four straight and five of its last six games. Pritchard, a freshman guard from Tishomingo County, added 19 points.
Northwest (7-7, 0-3) was led by sophomore guard Justin Gilliard, who connected on six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 30 points. It was his 3-pointer with 7:30 left that stopped a Rangers’ second-half shooting slump – just three field goals in the first 12 1/2 minutes.
Josh Rodgers had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Northeast’s Berry scored 11 points in the final 9 minutes of the first half to help the Tigers erase an 8-point Rangers lead and take a 34-32 halftime advantage.
Berry, who was 4-for-4 from the field in the first half, scored on a layup at the 3:35 mark to give the Tigers their largest lead, 31-26.
Gillard, a former Oxford standout, paced the Rangers with 15 points in the first half.
The Tigers return to action Thursday with a road trip to Fulton to battle North Division rival ICC.
(W) Northwest 73, Northeast 56
Northwest came off a month-long holiday break with a little too much zeal for the Lady Tigers.
“That’s probably our best opening five minutes of the season,” said Northwest coach Don Edwards, who watched his team race to a 25-5 lead by the 14:10 mark of the first half. “Most of the time we start the other way.
“Really, I thought we played well.”
The Lady Rangers (5-4, 2-1) connected on seven 3-pointers in the first half to build a 37-11 lead to cruise to their second division win.
De’Kisha Fondon led the Rangers with three 3-pointers and 14 points. Three other players – Shayla McKinney 12, Tamara Wadlington 11 and Sabrina Townsend 10 – scored in double figures for the Lady Rangers.
Northeast (3-8, 1-2) was led by Miranda Phillips with a game-high 23 points. Al’Lisha Hudson added 12 for the Lady Tigers, who were coached by assistant Maurice Stafford.
Head coach Ricky Ford missed the game because of a one-game suspension he received from the MACJC after getting two technical fouls in the Tigers’ last game on Jan. 5 against Jones.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal