By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
The Itawamba Community College Lady Indians are the defending state champions in basketball.
Head coach Nanci Gray is quick to point out the current version of the Lady Indians is not the same team, but the 2013 squad can capture a second straight title beginning today as the MACJC State Tournament begins at Pearl River Community College.
“The only thing being the defending state champion does is get other teams fired up to play us,” Gray said. “But we are a team that wants to win a state championship.”
The North Division No. 2 seed, the Lady Indians will play Southwest at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the tournament. Women’s semifinal contests are Wednesday, with championship action Thursday.
“I anticipate our kids coming in focused,” Gray said. “I don’t think we played well our last game on the road, but we played two good home games before that.”
Itawamba (15-8) ended its regular season play with a 67-53 loss at Mississippi Delta, but defeated Holmes and East Mississippi prior to that. Gray is looking to carry the effort from those two home wins into the contest against Southwest.
“I know they are a very feisty team, and very guard oriented,” Gray said. “They also hit the three, and play tremendous defense.”
Sophomore Ty-Nita Baker from Houston leads the Lady Indians offense at 17.4 points per game, the only player in double figures.
Second-year Northeast Lady Tigers (12-9) head coach Brian Alexander has his team in the post-season again as the North No. 3 seed, and play Gulf Coast at 1 p.m. today.
“Most people in the state thought Gulf Coast was going to be the No. 1 seed from the South,” Alexander said. “But I think we match up very well with them.”
Angelia Allen from Belmont leads Northeast in scoring at 13.9 ppg, with LaTonya Gadison at 11.9 ppg and Tupelo’s Antionette Riddle at 11.1 ppg.
In other contests today, Northwest vs. Jones County is at 3 p.m., and Mississippi Delta vs. Copiah-Lincoln is at 5 p.m.