By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
FULTON – The Itawamba Community College Lady Indians had no let up in them this night.
Propelled by a late first-half run, the Lady Indians stayed tied for first place in the North Division with a convincing 89-49 victory over the Northeast Lady Tigers.
“I’m terrifically pleased with the team’s play tonight,” Lady Indians head coach Nanci Gray said. “Give credit to our defense, we did a good job in the 2-3 zone, stopping their drives.”
The play was competitive through the early portions of the first half, befitting area rivals.
Featuring a balanced offensive attack, the Lady Indians (10-8, 6-1) saw eight different players score as the home team moved 15-10 lead following a Kaelin Kneeland basket.
The Lady Tigers were showing signs of life as well. Antionette Riddle, from Tupelo, had 14 points in the first half for Northeast, and her basket from the lane with 7 minutes, 56 seconds left in the half pulled her team to within 25-22.
Up stepped the Itawamba defense.
Switching to a zone, Itawamba began influencing missed shots by Northeast. And on the offensive end, a Jeronia Allen basket began a 14-0 run by the Lady Indians.
Allen capped the run with a lay up with 2:46 left in the half for a 39-22 Itawamba lead. Northeast never recovered, trailing 45-26 at the half, and shooting 26 per cent from the field en route to the intermission deficit.
“We had some opportunities where we missed some shots, compounded with some really good defense,” Lady Tigers head coach Brian Alexander said. “We started getting in foul trouble, and we started to slide.”
Off the bench, Allen was the only Itawamba player in double figures with 18 points, adding 10 rebounds. Riddle paced the Northeast attack with 18.
(M) Itawamba 83, Northeast 61: The Indians played smartly to maintain an undefeated mark in North play, good for first place in the division as Itawamba (12-6, 7-0) heads through the league schedule for the second time.
There was still some doubt left in the matchup in the first half, with Keldrick Lesley from Booneville hitting a 3-pointer to pull Northeast within 32-27. Then Tory Rice from Starkville exerted himself inside for ICC.
Rice scored two field goals to end the half as ICC led 41-30. Then Rice scored five early points to open the second half, and ICC was on the way to a win.
“I thought the first five minutes of the second half were key with our defensive intensity,” Indians head coach Grant Pate said. “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played in the division.”
Rice led ICC with 19, and Dimario Jackson hit 13 to lead Northeast.