By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
The Northeast Tigers and Itawamba Indians are two teams desperately in need of North Division wins.
Unfortunately, only one of these teams can pick up needed momentum today as the Indians travel to the Tigers for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
“We had a slow start to the season,” Northeast head coach David Robbins said. “And this month, we’ve taken a couple of weeks to find ourselves.”
The Tigers (7-7, 2-4) are coming off an 82-62 loss to Mississippi Delta on Monday. But while a division win would be nice, the rivalry with ICC adds a little spice to the meeting with both teams vying for one of four North playoff spots.
“I didn’t think we played particularly well the first time, taking nothing from them,” said Robbins, whose Tigers lost 68-64 at ICC on Nov. 29. “The North is so balanced that if you don’t come ready to play each night, you’re going to take your bumps.”
In their first meeting, the Tigers were without point guard Acie Vance from Ripley. Forwards KeDorian Sullivan and Tyler Brunson led Northeast with 19 points each.
“There is no room for error this time of season,” Robbins said. “You have to get all of your games at home, and one or two on the road.”
Itawamba (8-9, 1-5) needs a serious jump-start to the second half of its North schedule.
“So far we’ve been inconsistent,” Itawamba coach Grant Pate said. “We’ve played some good halves, but we’re trying to put two good halves together.”
Tupelo sophomore Deontaye Ewing scored 19 in the Nov. 29 win over Northeast, and has been a consistent factor throughout the season. Guard Quinton Lee and Starkville freshman Tory Rice have contributed nicely in January as well.
“The first matchup was a back-and-forth game,” Pate said. “This is a real important game on several points for us.
“We’re trying to get back on the winning side, it’s a rivalry game, and it’s just a big North Division game for both of us.”