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No. 13 EMCC Lions are playing this season with a chip on their shoulders

Published: Jan. 15, 2022 at 9:17 PM CST
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SCOOBA, Miss. (WTOK) - The number 13th ranked EMCC Lions have started the season hot with 11 wins and only two losses on the year.

“The way we see it is, we’re number 13. We have 12 more spots to go. We’re looking at number one,” said sophomore Jakorie Smith.

The Lions are currently ranked 13th in the NJCAA rankings. This is their highest ranking since the 2013-14 season.

Coach Billy Begley said, “It’s a testament to their hard work but the way that we see it is that we have 12 more spots to go. We came into this year, the way last season ended. You know we kind of felt like we kind of cut ourselves short last year. But this year we feel like we’ve got 12 more spots to go that’s how we look at it. You know we feel like- we’ve got a long way to go. We’re only three games into the conference season so there’s a lot of basketball to be played but we like where we are.”

Coach Begley took his veteran team this summer and told them to trust the process. So far the Lions have bought into that, but they are still playing with an extra chip on their shoulders.

Former Meridian boys basketball player and EMCC guard, Traemond Pittman, said, “We want to prove everybody wrong. We want to prove the whole state wrong. We feel like we’re the number one team in the country so we’re trying to get there.”

This team has a hungry mindset,” said coach Begley. “ You know we have played a very tough schedule this year and we’ve played- you know we’ve played one of the top teams in the country and you know led for 38 out 40 minutes of that game. The confidence that this team has you know, we feel like we can play with anybody in the country.”

November 13, 2021 was when EMCC played John A. Logan College and it was one where they only lost by four points, 80-76. The game was a huge turning point for this team and a huge confidence booster.

Smith said, “I mean we went to Indiana and we basically beat the number three team in the nation right now. We had them up all game and the last three minutes we just ran out of gas. So we just got the feeling we could beat anybody in the nation with this team right here and coach B and coach DJ.”

Pittman said, “Coach put it in our head. He told us from day one that we have the piece to be special, we just have to be locked into it.”

EMCC got their 8th straight win on Saturday over Copiah-Lincoln 85-76. Jakorie Smith scored 25 points in the second half alone and finished the game with 32 total points with 8 rebounds.

Danny Washington and Brandon Deravine scored a career high of 15 points. The Lions are 11-2 overall and 4-0 in MACCC play.

They will hit the road to Ellisville to take on Jones College on Tuesday.

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