By David Wheeler
Today is the beginning of the postseason dance for Mississippi men’s junior college basketball teams.
Both the Northeast Tigers and Itawamba Indians have afternoon MACJC state tournament semifinal games at Jones County. Itawamba plays Southwest at 1 p.m., while Northeast plays East Central at 3 p.m.
“We’re playing pretty good right now, and we’re as healthy as we can be this time of the year,” Northeast coach Cord Wright said.
“East Central played well down the stretch like us, and it will be a tough battle.”
Northeast (17-6) is the North Division No. 1 seed, on a seven-game winning streak. The Tigers beat East Central (13-9) on Dec. 8 75-64 at East Central.
A total of five Tigers are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by Leroy Buchanan (Madison Central), at 18.8 points per game. Kendall Stafford (Corinth), is at 10.2 ppg.
“Leroy Buchanan has been our most consistent player,” Wright said. “But his brother Shunn is playing pretty good right now, and is a most complete player at point guard.
“Kendall Stafford needs a big game, not only because of who he has to guard, but with the opportunities he will have on offense. And our inside guys will need to be able to counter what East Central does.”
ICC closes fast
Itawamba’s men (11-11) needed two wins in their final two game to qualify for the postseason, including a 92-90 overtime win at Northwest in the final regular season game last Thursday. The victory propelled the Indians past Northwest as the No. 3 seed from the North.
Brian Halums (Simmons) leads Itawamba in scoring at 17.2 ppg.
Southwest (16-6) is the South No. 2 seed.
The men’s and women’s championship games are Thursday.
(W) Southwest 60, Itawamba 52: Jabria Pounds (Nettleton) scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss for the North’s No. 1 seed.
ICC (16-7) will wait for the pairings of next week’s Region 23 tournament.
(W) Hinds 78, Northeast 67, OT: The Tigers got a game-high 24 points from Aundrea Adams but lost in overtime.
Shelby Wilbanks added 19 in the loss.
The Lady Tigers (15-9)will also be waiting to see if they’ll qualify for next week’s Region 23 tournament.