Lady Lions look to continue Cinderella season at NJCAA Region 23 basketball tournament
When sophomore shooting guard Taylor Lattimore was asked how the team has been so successful this season, she only needed one word to answer: "Coach".
Lattimore was referring to Sharon Thompson, the Mississippi State All-SEC standout who is currently in the midst of her 15th season as head coach of EMCC’s women’s basketball team.
This season, Thompson has helped bring the program to new heights as the Lady Lions are currently on a 19-game win streak and recently won the MACJC tournament.
After sweeping through MACJC North Division play undefeated, the Lady Lions earned the right to host the state tournament. After the women’s team made it to the championship game to face No. 1 south seed Jones College, Coach Thompson shared how her nerves disappeared.
“I wasn’t nervous about the championship game. I was nervous in the two games leading up to the state championship because I knew we had our hands full,” Thompson explained. “To me it would have been embarrassing for us to host the state tournament and not make it to the championship game.”
EMCC not only made it to the state championship but put on a show for those in attendance. During the waning seconds of regulation, Lattimore became a hero for the Lady Lions. Following an EMCC timeout, Lattimore took an inbounds pass from point guard Tye Metcalf and nailed an acrobatic 3-point buzzer beater to send the game into overtime.
“To be honest, the play went wrong,” Lattimore shared. “It didn't go as planned, so the mindset was 'get it in, get it in' and get the shot off. When she (the defender) didn't jump with me because she didn't expect me to make it, it gave me a lot of room.”
Lattimore shared that she prayed to God before the final inbound that the shot would fall in. She said that once the ball left her fingertips, she thought the shot was off to the left. But after seeing her teammate’s reactions, she knew this wasn’t the case.
“When Tye (Metcalf) looked at me, her eyes got big and she started running towards me,” Lattimore said about when she knew the shot had gone in. “I was in shock because I couldn't believe I had made it."
Metcalf shared what happened during the play from her perspective.
"When the play got messed up I just told her 'scoot back' and when she went back, she caught the ball and then I saw her hands go up,” Metcalf said. “I didn't know if it was going in but it went right in and I couldn't do anything but raise my hands at her. She couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it, nobody could believe it…it was crazy."
Lattimore would hit another 3-point buzzer beater to send the game into double overtime. The second overtime belonged EMCC after the Lady Lions scored the first nine points of the session. Metcalf and freshman Ja’Mia Hollings would net 16 of the team's 18 points in the second overtime as the Lady Lions went on to beat Jones 87-73 and claim the golden basketball trophy.
Coach Thompson shared why winning the MACJC title was so special.
"With the state tournament we get the gold ball and for our region tournament, which starts up this week, we get a plaque for it. I wanted that gold ball and bragging rights for the state,” Thompson shared. “Two of my former assistant coaches had called me joking about it saying 'you've always wanted that gold ball, how does it feel?’ it feels awesome."
The Lady Lions will now compete in the NJCAA Region 23 tournament on Wed. as the No. 1 seed facing No. 7 seed Northwest Mississippi.