Special to the Journal
The Itawamba Indians basketball team are still admiring the shine of their 2014 State Championship trophy.
All except head coach Grant Pate, who is already planning how to replace three starters next season.
“There was a lot of work that went in to achieving the state championship,” Pate said, whose Indians were 17-10, and 9-3 in the North Division. “The trophy symbolizes all that work.
“It certainly means a lot to the program, players, and staff. We met this week and reflected on the season. We thanked the sophomores, but it is time for the freshman class to work hard and refocus.”
ICC must replace starters Alex Anderson from Memphis, Johnathan McGee from Jackson, and Tory Rice from Starkville. Anderson led the Indians in scoring at 16.7 points per game, McGee was second at 14.6 ppg, while Rice averaged 10.0 ppg, and led with 8.1 rebounds per contest.
“But we do return a solid group,” Pate said. “We look forward to those freshmen who are coming back to being leaders next year.”
A group Northeast Mississippi players are some of the key returnees for the Indians – Austin Timms from Mooreville, Tyronne Wooten from Memphis, Lakee Westbrook from Shannon, Dee Gates from Baldwyn, and Tay Crawford from Aberdeen. Timms and Wooten were in the starting five for the Indians most of the season.
“Now, we’re focused on recruiting,” Pate said. “With the group we have coming back, we’re focusing on numbers, but at players, focusing on positions.”
National signing day is April 8.
The Lady Indians will also be focusing on April 8, coming off a 14-10, 12-2 mark.
Among those graduating will be Tia Coleman, who led the Lady Indians in rebounding at 9.7 per game, adding 9.8 ppg.
Heading the returning class will be Jayla Chills from Ripley, who led the Lady Indians in scoring at 12.2 ppg.