By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – The Itawamba Community College Indians opened their 2012-13 season Monday, and Grant Pate premiered as their head coach.
A lackluster second half contributed to a 103-80 victory for Shelton (Ala.)State, spoiling Pate’s debut.
“This was going to be a tough game, we knew that going in,” said Pate, who was the head coach at Tupelo High School earlier in the calendar year. “The keys to the game were rebounding, taking care of the ball, and executing on offense.”
Itawamba showed some promise early, taking an 11-8 lead on a jumper from the wing by Tupelo sophomore Deontaye Ewing. With all baskets coming from the paint, Shelton State recovered and forced its way to as much as a 23-16 lead.
Six straight points by Ewing, capped by free throws by sophomore Quintin Lee pulled ICC back to within 1 (25-24).
Shelton State again pushed its margin out to 34-24, but the Indians were hanging tough at this point, with freshman Johnathan McGee’s layup closing the deficit to 40-35 at the half.
“At halftime, we talked about how important the first five minutes of the second half would be,” Pate said. “We’re going to learn from this, and correct our mistakes.”
ICC promptly turned the ball over on the opening inbounds play, a prelude for three minutes later.
Inside the 18-minute mark, in a span of 41 seconds, Shelton State scored eight straight points, thanks to three ICC turn-overs, pushing its lead to 54-40.
The Indians never sniffed the lead after that.
Ewing paced ICC with 18 points, while Travis Daniels tallied 25 points to lead Shelton State.
“I think basically, we want the same thing, we want to win,” Ewing said of being reunited with his high school coach. “I think I’m more talkative this season compared to last.
“I know what he wants us to do.”
(W) Shelton State 83, ICC 60: Ty-Nita Baker of Houston scored 16 in the loss.
Angelia Allen had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Northeast’s women opened with a 83-75 victory over East Central. Acie Vance scored 21 as the Tigers’ men opened with a 88-83 win over East Central.