By Schoo Reports
CLINTON – Jameika Hoskins scored a game-high 20 points and LaPrecious Naylon added 14 on Friday afternoon to lead Itawamba Community College to a 62-53 win over Holmes in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament semifinals.
ICC (26-2) advanced to today’s 6 p.m. championship game against Meridian (21-10) at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum. The winner will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina, Kansas.
The Lady Indians, who won the MACJC state tournament last week and have won 21 straight, are playing for the their first region championship since 1975 – when Gray was an ICC player.
“We’ve got a lot of heart on this team,” Gray said after the win. “Our kids played very hard. We didn’t look our best tonight. It wasn’t an easy task.”
The Lady Indians have not played Meridian this season. The Lady Eagles defeated Co-Lin 63-59 to reach the title game behind a 24-point effort from Narianna Haynes.
“We’ve seen them play their two games here,” Gray said. “We won’t change a lot.”
Trailing 32-25 at the half, Holmes (18-7) battled back to tie the game at 48 with 8:15 left. After a timeout by Gray, the Lady Indians responded with an 8-0 run for a 56-48 advantage.
ICC guard Shay Bonner (Starkville) was poked in the eye in the first half and saw limited minutes, but made back-to-back steals to help spark the Lady Indians’ decisive run.
“Shay’s effort was the best example of how we were able to win the game today,” Gray said. “It took a lot of heart for her to battle through the pain.”
Naylon and Hoskins (Aberdeen) iced the game by hitting 6 of 8 from the free throw line down the stretch.
Hoskins scored 14 of her 20 points in the first half.
“Jameika put the team on her shoulders,” said Gray. “She really came on strong to get help us out to a quick start.”
Kierra Gilmore scored 17 points to lead Holmes. Ty-Nita Baker (Houston) added 10 points for ICC.