By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Itawamba Lady Indians head coach Nanci Gray knows her squad has a tough, long haul ahead of them in North Division play.
But solid efforts and posting victories in the win column will take the Lady Indians a long way.
Itawamba went about that business Thursday, chalking up a 70-58 win over the Northwest Lady Rangers.
“It won’t be easy to run the gamut in this division, you have to be very focused,” Gray said. “Give credit to our kids tonight for finding a way to win.”
Gray was not happy with the consistency of the Lady Indians (12-2, 3-0) defense, which allowed the Lady Rangers a spurt early in the contest for a 10-9 lead.
Vechatita Bonner had a strong first half for ICC, and her free throw and basket put the Lady Indians back in the lead at 12-10. An Ayanna Lynn steal and basket pushed the Itawamba advantage up to 24-11.
The contest see sawed a bit more with ICC holding a 45-29 margin early in the second half on a Jasmine Hampton from Bruce basket. The Lady Rangers tried to respond, and a layup by Shaquilla Isom of Lafayette pulled the visitors within 45-37.
That was as close as the Lady Indians allowed it the rest of the way.
“With what Vechatita did in the first half, and Jasmine in the second half, it’s good when both can do the job inside,” Gray said. “But I wish we wouldn’t let teams get runs.
“We tend to get lost on our defensive assignments.”
Bonner lead ICC with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Jameika Hoskins of Aberdeen added another double-double with 16 and 11. Tiesha Tunstall paced Northwest with 21.
(M) Northwest 77, Itawamba 61: The Indians (6-8, 2-1) turned in an uninspired effort, with poor ball-handling in the first half allowing the Rangers to lead 41-34 at the intermission.
Baskets by Nick Moncure and Deontaye Ewing from Tupelo gave ICC some hope early in the second half, cutting the deficit to 41-39. The Rangers responded with a 13-0 run, capped by a Jordan Hulsey layup with 12 minutes, 42 seconds to play that pushed the Northwest advantage to 55-39. Itawamba never recovered.
“It takes energy to beat a team like Northwest,” Itawamba coach Marty Cooper said. “We dug ourselves back in a hole.”
D. J. Gardner of Okolona shot in 27 to lead ICC, while A. J. Cunningham led Northwest with 27.