By Gene Phelp/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Todd Nelson’s a deadly shooter in practice, but he struggles to hit the target in a game.
That all changed Thursday night.
The 6-foot-3 freshman guard from Northwest Rankin connected on four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to lead Itawamba to a 71-64 victory against state community college North Division rival Northeast at the Davis Event Center.
“I’ve been struggling with my shot,” Nelson said. “I can shoot in practice, but not in a game.”
It was Nelson’s 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer was sounding that gave the Indians a 62-51 lead against the rallying Tigers with 2 minutes, 56 seconds remaining.
Nelson helped seal the win with one of his four rebounds and by hitting two free throws down the stretch.
“He’s been taking good shots, but he hasn’t been making them,” said ICC coach Marty Cooper, who has won 14 of his last 17 games against Northeast. “We told Todd that he needs to make shots to help our offense.”
It was a huge win for ICC (10-5, 3-1), which had lost by three points Monday to North power East Mississippi on the road.
“We had a tough loss to East Mississippi, but we were able to bounce back tonight with a win,” Cooper said. “We’ve got to keep winning now until we get them back up here.”
Northeast (7-7, 2-2) saw its four-game win streak come to an end. The Tigers were coming off a division win against rival Northwest.
“Physically, they just outplayed us,” Northeast coach David Robbins said. “We had 17 turnovers in the first half. I don’t see how we were even in the game.”
Northeast, paced by guard Tyler Pritchard’s game-high 26 points, struggled with its inside game in the first half, scoring just one basket in the paint. That came on a layup by Emmanuel Ezejiofo with 13 seconds remaining.
As a matter of fact, Ezejiofo’s field goal was the Tigers’ only one in the final 71⁄2 minutes of the first half.
ICC trailed 14-11 after a 3-pointer by Pritchard, but the Indians tied the score at 14-14 seconds later on a 3-point play by Xavier Ruth at the 7:16 mark.
From that point, the Indians outscored the Tigers 15-6 to take a 29-20 halftime lead.
Also for ICC, Vincenzo Nelson scored 15 points, Jeremy Word 13 and Wesley McIntosh 12. Tyrie Berry, who scored 21 against Northwest, had 12 for the Tigers; Ezejiofo added 10.
(W) ICC 84, Northeast 48
Nanci Gray just wanted her ICC team to give a better effort against rival Northeast than it did Monday in a loss to East Mississippi.
The Lady Indians responded.
Destini Shannon scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead ICC (10-6, 3-1) to its divison victory. Anna Dill added 12 points and nine boards.
“I thought our kids played hard,” said Gray, whose club is 9-1 at home this season. “We didn’t play hard at East Mississippi. We talked to them about playing through a whole half.”
ICC jumped out to a 23-10 lead in the opening 10 minutes behind three 3-pointers by Birdie Bowens, but the Lady Tigers came back to cut the Indians’ edge to 29-23 late in the half.
Down the stretch, baskets by Shannon and Dill helped ICC take a 37-23 halftime lead. The second half was easier as the pressing Lady Indians out-scored the visitors 47-25.
“I thought Destini had one of her best games scoring on putbacks and rebounding,” Gray said. “Anna’s more aggressive in our press. She makes things happen in transition.”
Northeast (3-9, 1-3) was led by Al’Lisha Hudson with 17 points.