By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Talk about your congenial hostess.
Itawamba’s Lady Indians played along with the visiting Northeast Lady Indians’ strategy in the first half of Thursday’s MACJC North Division game at the Davis Event Center.
That quickly changed in the second half.
ICC forced Northeast out of its halfcourt ploy with its up-tempo attack to turn a 4-point halftime lead into an 87-67 Lady Indians victory.
“Northeast did a good job in their zone defense and we played zone offense,” ICC coach Nanci Gray said. “We were fortunate that we led at halftime.
“I told my players at halftime, ‘We’re not going to play like this.’’’
ICC, leading 41-37 after 20 minutes, outscored the Lady Tigers 19-2 in the first 7 minutes of the second half to rocket to a 60-39 lead.
Jameika Hoskins, who led ICC with 23 points, connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to enforce the run and give the Indians the outside-inside balance they were seeking.
Freshman center Jasmine Hampton played her best game of the season from a statistical standpoint for the Lady Indians, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“That’s what you love to see out of your freshmen this time of year,” Gray said, then smiled. “She was excited. She gave us a presence inside.”
Hoskins, who can penetrate or pull up and hit the jumper, likes the options a strong inside game gives her.
“We knew once ‘Hamp’ got going inside, it would open up the outside,” she said.
ICC (19-2, 10-0 division) can clinch a host berth for the men’s and women’s MACJC State Tournament, which is scheduled for Feb. 27-March 1 at the North women’s winner, with a win Monday at East Mississippi.
Northeast (8-14, 4-7) was led Kebrina Lucas with 15 and Amber Jackson with 14. LaPrecious Naylon added 17 for ICC.
(M) ICC 76, Northeast 67: Deontaye Ewing scored 21 points, including two huge 3-pointers with under 5 minutes remaining to lead the Indians (9-12, 5-5).
Northeast (13-8, 4-7) cut ICC’s lead to 59-55 before Ewing’s back-to-back perimeter bombs.
The Tigers were led in scorng by Lavon Hooks with 18.