SCOOBA – In their final regular-season action, the East Mississippi Community College basketball teams swept visiting Coahoma during Thursday's "Sophomore Night" festivities at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The Lady Lions secured the MACJC North Division title outright with an easy 71-44 victory, while the EMCC men completed the sweep with a 71-56 triumph over the Tigers.
Both EMCC teams now prepare for next week's MACJC State Basketball Tournament, set to be hosted by Itawamba Community College and played at ICC's Davis Event Center. Men's first-round action begins Monday, while women's opening-round play starts Tuesday. Game times are set for 1, 3, 6 and 8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday with Thursday's championship-game tip-offs slated for 6 and 8 p.m.
As the second seed in the MACJC North Division men's standings behind host Itawamba, head coach Mark White's EMCC Lions (17-5, 8-3) will meet South No. 3 seed and reigning MACJC State Champion Pearl River Monday at 3 p.m. The EMCC-PRCC winner will advance to take on the winner between South No. 1 Jones County and North No. 4 Coahoma Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Outright champions of the MACJC's North Division and winners of their last 10 division contests, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions (16-7, 11-1) will battle South No. 4 seed Southwest Mississippi Tuesday at 3 p.m. The EMCC-SMCC women's winner will move on to face the winner between South No. 2 Meridian and North No. 3 Mississippi Delta Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Monday's night session of the MACJC State Tournament men's bracket will have North No. 1 Itawamba versus South No. 4 Southwest Mississippi at 6 p.m., followed by South No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast against North No. 3 Northwest Mississippi. Tuesday's second session of the women's bracket will pit South No. 1 Jones County against North No. 4 Northwest Mississippi at 6 p.m., followed by North No. 2 Itawamba versus South No. 3 Pearl River.
Against Coahoma to close out the regular-season slate, the Lady Lions led comfortably from the opening tip to the final buzzer, jumping out to an 18-3 lead by the 14:18 mark en route to a 36-19 halftime advantage. The 17-point margin was as close as the visitors would get in the second half as well before the home team pulled away for the 27-point victory.
With four players scoring in double figures for the home team, Kyra Gulledge led all scorers with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. The former H.W Byers High School standout also collected a team-high nine rebounds along with adding two blocks and two steals.
In their final home action, fellow sophomores Takera Mitchell, Savannah Kimmons and Wilma Davis followed with 14, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Falling to 2-19 overall and 1-11 within the division, the Coahoma Lady Tigers received a double-double performance from Ashley Smith with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
In the men's nightcap, the home-standing Lions scored the final nine points of the opening half to take a 37-25 lead into the intermission. EMCC sophomore Justin Kinsey hit 7-of-8 shots from the field, including five put-back baskets, on the way to a 16-point opening half.
To their credit, the resilient Tigers battled back to cut the deficit to five points on a couple of occasions during the closing period. However, East Mississippi responded with another 9-0 run midway through the half to extend the advantage to 58-42 by the 7:14 mark. The margin stayed at double figures the rest of the way en route to the 15-point triumph by the four-time NJCAA Region 23 champions.
Kinsey took game scoring honors with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 from the line. With seven of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive boards, the Yazoo City product registered his second double-double of the season while also adding three blocks and two steals.
Former Kemper County High School standout Devonta Pollard totaled 15 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals, while the backcourt tandem of Jacolby Mobley and Nick Giles added 14 and 13 points, respectively, to the winning effort.
Dropping to 9-14 overall and 7-5 within the division, the Coahoma Tigers were led by Billy Jackson's 17 points and seven rebounds. Darcee Carson and Markeevius Haywood followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively.