Special to the Journal
FULTON – Winning certainly puts a better perspective on a season.
Getting a double-double from sophomore Tia Coleman, the Itawamba Lady Indians looked very much the part of a first-place team, downing the Holmes Lady Bulldogs 70-57 on Monday at the Davis Event Center.
“We pulled out another one,” said Lady Indians head coach Nanci Gray, whose squad was coming off a disappointing non-division loss to Copiah-Lincoln a week ago. “Some of the kids are starting to play together.”
With the victory, the Lady Indians (8-6, 4-0) remain atop the standings in the North Division. Itawamba will host East Mississippi in another division matchup Tuesday.
After a bit of back and forth in the first half, which saw Itawamba grab a slim 28-26 lead at the break, the Lady Indians finally found a way to shake the Lady Bulldogs.
Holmes was leading 38-37 when Kaelin Kneeland scored off a rebound with 14 minutes to play. Itawamba never trailed for the rest of the contest.
Coleman, who played eighth-grade ball at Tupelo and her freshman year at Saltillo, hit a key 3-pointer with 10:46 remaining to give the home team a 46-40 lead as ICC began to inch away. Coleman also had the basket that gave Itawamba a 10 point margin at 51-41, and freshman Jayla Chills from Ripley had seven points down the stretch to help ice the win.
“We were able to out rebound them, with Tia getting another double-double,” said Gray, who saw Coleman go for 13 points and 14 rebounds. “I told the kids tonight we had to protect the home court.”
Chills scored 15 for Itawamba, with Nikki McMillian from Pontotoc adding 12. Carmesha Nalls led Holmes with 13.
(M) ICC 96, Holmes 92: The Indians (9-6, 4-0) tired several times to close out Holmes, but could not put the visitors away until the last minute of the contest. A Northeast Mississippi contingent of players had key baskets in the second half for the Indians, including Dee Gates from Baldwyn, and Lakee Westbrook from Shannon.
Gates scored 25 to pace ICC, with Tory Rice from Starkville adding 12. Rodriques Palmer was tops for Holmes with 20 points.
Itawamba led 35-34 at the half.