The Lions of East Mississippi Community College clinched their fourth consecutive MACJC North Division men’s basketball title outright by claiming an 87-64 victory over visiting Northwest Mississippi Community College amidst Monday’s ‘Sophomore Night’ festivities at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. In the women’s game, the Northwest Lady Rangers earned a 67-55 triumph over the home-standing EMCC women.
After trailing 13-6 five minutes into the contest and down 19-10 at the 14:00 mark, head coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions scored 11 unanswered points midway through the half to reclaim the lead at 21-19. Still up by just a bucket late in the period, the Lions then used a 7-0 spurt over the final minute of the half to take a 45-36 lead at the intermission.
The home team came out of the break with the same intensity that led up to the nine-point halftime lead. Leading by 10 points seven minutes into the second stanza, EMCC put up six quick points on back-to-back baskets by Earnest Hunter and a Mack Foster score to push the margin to 16 points (61-45) with 12:20 remaining in the contest.
A three-point play by sophomore Jarekious Bradley around the 9:00 mark bumped up EMCC’s advantage to 20 points (69-49). The cushion ballooned to 25 points on three occasions over the final seven minutes, before the Lions would settle for the 23-point triumph to avenge last month’s 79-67 loss in Senatobia and run their current winning streak to five consecutive games.
Improving to 16-6 overall and 9-2 within the division, the Lions shot 57 percent (17-of-30 FGs) from the field after halftime and owned a 22-10, second-half rebounding margin over Northwest. For the game, EMCC connected on 51 percent (34-of-67 FGs) of their field goals and maintained a commanding 44-26 advantage on the boards.
Now with a 42-5 composite division record dating back to the 2009-10 campaign, EMCC’s current string of four straight MACJC North Division basketball titles marks the first such streak since Northwest Mississippi most recently accomplished the feat four consecutive seasons from 1995-96 through 1998-99.
Individually, Bradley, selected as the MACJC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his combined efforts in last week’s wins over Northeast Mississippi and Itawamba, led a quartet of double-figure scorers for the Lions by registering his seventh double-double of the season with game-high totals of 21 points and 10 rebounds. The former Memphis East High School product hit 7-of-12 shots from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe against the Rangers.
Freshman guard Jacolby Mobley, of Starkville, followed with 17 points, while sophomores Micah Walker and Earnest Hunter followed with 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
Falling to 15-6 overall and 7-4 in division play, Northwest was led by DeMarcus McVay and Charles Eaton with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
In the women’s game, the short-handed Lady Rangers broke open a 21-21 tie by scoring the last 11 points of the opening half to take a 32-21 halftime advantage. The Lady Lions were out-shot 40 percent to 25 percent through the opening 20 minutes of play, as they managed but six made first-half field goals.
After falling behind by 17 points seven minutes into the second stanza, EMCC made one final significant push by scoring seven unanswered points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Leah Isabelle and a free throw by Savannah Kimmons. The 7-0 run by the home team cut the deficit to nine points (55-46) with 7:56 remaining in the game.
At that point, both teams went cold from the field for a spell before the visitors reeled off six straight points to push the margin back up to 15 points (61-46) by the 3:30 mark and essentially seal the victory for the Lady Rangers.
Coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions, now 6-16 overall and 4-7 in the division, were led by freshmen Takera Mitchell and Charmane Tims with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Playing without injured starters Shaquilla Isom and Bethany Lytle, the Northwest women were paced by Tiesha Tunstall with a game-high 19 points. Leah Lytle and Carshava Sutton added 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Lady Rangers, who improved to 17-5 overall and 8-3 within the division.
The East Mississippi basketball teams conclude their regular season Thursday by traveling to Clarksdale to take on Coahoma Community College in a 6/8 p.m. doubleheader. Those games, as well as EMCC’s games at next week’s (Feb. 25-28) MACJC State Basketball Tournament, are slated to be video-streamed live on the school's Ustream channel at www.ustream.tv/channel/emcc-basketball, which can be easily accessed through the school's athletics website, www.EMCCAthletics.com. EMCC media director/athletic video coordinator Derek Cody will be on hand to describe all of the play-by-play action throughout the basketball postseason.