JUCO BASKETBALL: Tigers rolling into state tourney

By Gene Phelp/NEMS Daily Journal

Northeast’s biggest win of the 2009-10 season came in the final game of the regular season.
The Tigers, needing a victory to qualify for next week’s NJCAA Region 23 tournament, defeated the nation’s No. 8-ranked community college team, East Mississippi 71-67 in Booneville.
“Our kids were focused and played their hearts out,” Northeast coach David Robbins said. “To win and get the opportunity to advance to the region is exciting for our guys.”
The region tournament is next week at Mississippi College, with a national playoff berth at stake.
Before region play, however, Northeast has a date this week in the annual MACJC state tournament at East Mississippi in Scooba. The Tigers (12-10), the North’s No. 3 seed, play South No. 2 seed Jones County (16-8) at 5:30 p.m. today in the first round.
“I think the win against East Mississippi gives us some momentum going into the state tournament,” Robbins said.
The difference down the stretch for the Tigers has been the play of point guard Tyler Pritchard. The 5-foot-7 freshman from Tishomingo County is averaging 12.6 points per game.
“He’s been our most consistent player since Christmas,” Robbins said. “Some of our freshmen are starting to grow up.”
Two rookie forwards – Ripley’s Tyrie Berry and Raymond’s Emanuel Ezejiofo – have also made huge contributions. Berry averages 14.3 points per game while Ezejiofo averages 7.3 points and 5.1 rebounds.

ICC plays Hinds
At ICC, the Indians have also looked to a freshman guard, Melvin Morgan, for leadership.
The 5-9 Memphis product scored 24 points in a late-season win against Delta and was the difference in the final two minutes of a seven-point win against Holmes.
In the final two minutes of the Indians’ 62-55 victory, he scored a field goal, had an assist and was 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
ICC (17-8), a North No. 2 seed, plays South No. 3 seed Hinds (18-6) at noon today.

Women play Tuesday
ICC’s Lady Indians (17-8), the North’s No. 2 seed, play South No. 3 Southwest (14-5) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first round.
The men’s and women’s four semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday and the finals for Thursday.

Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal.com