EMCC’s Sharon Thompson named MACJC Coach of the Year; EMCC quintet earns All-MACJC hoops honors

(Courtesy: EMCC Athletics)

SCOOBA, Miss. (EMCC Athletics) East Mississippi Community College head women's basketball coach Sharon Thompson has been recognized for the Lady Lions' successful season by being named the 2019-20 MACJC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year, as voted on by the conference's head women's basketball coaches.

The announcement was made Wednesday by MACJC Commissioner Steven Martin, along with the conference's other individual postseason basketball honors, as EMCC continues to serve as the proud host of this year's MACJC Basketball Tournament being played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.

Additionally for the Lady Lions, EMCC had freshman forward Ja'Mia Hollings and sophomore guard Tye Metcalf selected to this year's All-MACJC North Division women's basketball first team. Sophomore transfer guard Taylor Lattimore earned second-team honors for EMCC.

On the men's side for East Mississippi, freshman forward Jakorie Smith was chosen to the All-MACJC North Division first team, while sophomore guard Donte Powers made the second team.

Thompson, who has also recently taken on additional administrative responsibilities as EMCC's Director of Athletics, has guided the 22-2 EMCC Lady Lions to the MACJC North Division regular-season championship with a current 17-game winning streak heading into Wednesday's semifinal-round MACJC Tournament contest against Southwest Mississippi. The Geiger, Ala., native and former Mississippi State All-SEC standout also recently received the Agent of Change Award in Sports/Athletics during a luncheon of the African-American Leadership Caucus held earlier this month at the Lion Hills Center in Columbus.

"It is a great honor to be recognized as the MACJC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year amongst your peers in the league," Thompson said. "Winning such an award comes from years of hard work, commitment and dedication, but it's also about the players buying into your program and culture."

This year marks the second MACJC Coach of the Year honor for Thompson, who previously guided the 25-7 EMCC Lady Lions to a regular-season MACJC North Division title and NJCAA Region 23 Tournament championship during the 2008-09 season en route to making their first NJCAA Tournament appearance since 1978. She capped her successful 2008-09 campaign by participating as a court coach during the 2009 USA Basketball Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.

EMCC's Hollings leads the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), rebounding (9.6 rpg), steals (2.3 spg), blocked shots (19) and field goal percentage (61.7%). The West Point product is a two-time MACJC Women's Basketball Player of the Week selection this season and has recorded a dozen double-doubles on the year.

Metcalf, is a repeat all-state backcourt performer for the Lady Lions. The Southaven product averages 12.3 points, 4.0 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game on the season. Metcalf helped lead EMCC to Tuesday's 53-47 opening-round tournament win over Mississippi Gulf Coast with a team-high 14 points, six assists and six rebounds.

Lattimore, a transfer from Jackson State University, is EMCC's second-leading scorer on the season with an average of 12.3 points per game. The Memphis native tops the Lady Lions with 55 made 3-pointers on the year.

For the East Mississippi men, Smith, a product of Raymond High School, tops the team in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.4 rpg) while also shooting 49.6 percent from the field, 36.5 percent from three-point range and 72.6 percent from the free throw line. The two-time MACJC Men's Basketball Player of the Week recipient has also registered seven double-doubles this season.

Powers is the Lions' second-leading scorer on the year at 13.1 points per game in addition to averaging 3.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest. The Starkville product is also shooting 38.3 percent from the field, including a team-high 36 made 3-pointers, while connecting on a club-best 85.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Coach Billy Begley's 16-8 EMCC Lions, who dropped a tough-luck 70-65 decision to Jones College during Monday's opening-round men's MACJC Tournament action in Scooba, have qualified as the No. 4 seed to compete in next week's (March 3-6) NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament in Clinton. EMCC will open the region tournament by taking on fifth-seeded Hinds on Tuesday. Tip-off time is set for 5 p.m. at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.

EMCC's Lady Lions have also qualified for next week's eight-team Region 23 women's tournament, though the tourney seedings will be determined by the results of this week's MACJC Tournament. Women's regional play will begin Wednesday in Clinton.