SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams successfully tipped off their season with a home sweep over Tennessee Preparatory Academy Thursday evening at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. Following a 29-13 final in a shortened women's contest, the Lions completed the sweep with a 68-56 victory in the men's nightcap.
In the competitive men's contest, 11 first-half lead changes resulted in a 31-30 lead at the break by the visitors after DeAni Bannerman drained a three-quarter court shot at the halftime buzzer. An early eight-point lead (15-7) by the Lions was negated by nine unanswered points from Tennessee Prep midway through the opening half.
Following three more lead changes to begin the second stanza, Keith Harris' second straight 3-pointer three minutes into the half gave the Lions the lead for good. A narrow one-point EMCC lead (45-44) was pushed to eight points (54-46) by the 8:56 mark on Dewayne Cox's pair of free throws.
Suiting up just nine players for the game, the Memphis-based Diplomat Lions held their own and kept the game close throughout the second half. Jordan Graham's 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark pulled the visitors to within three points (54-51), but the Detroit native fouled out shortly thereafter with his game-high 22 points.
From there, EMCC's depth prevailed after three more Tennessee Prep players fouled out down the stretch.
With four players scoring in double figures, the home-standing Lions were led by Harris and Cam Horton with 15 points apiece. Harris, out of Starkville, connected on 3-of-5 shots from three-point range while adding five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Horton, who sat out last season with a wrist injury, hit all eight of his free throw attempts in addition to totaling five boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Off the EMCC bench, Ripley's Cox had 14 points to go along with three steals and three rebounds. New Hope High School product Terryonte Thomas added 10 points for the winners in his collegiate debut.
Playing with mostly a running clock in the women's opener, EMCC took a 7-2 lead after the first quarter with freshman Brianna Page scoring all of her game-high seven points in the period. The visitors battled back to outscore the Lions by a basket (8-6) in the second quarter to cut the halftime deficit to 13-10 in favor of the home team.
Though struggling with just 6-of-34 (18%) shooting from the field for the game, EMCC managed to control the second half by claiming the third and fourth quarters, 10-3 and 6-0, respectively, en route to the 16-point victory to open the season.
Page, a product of West Jones High School, hit 5-of-6 free throws and added six rebounds. Returning starter Kaisah Lucky totaled six points, seven rebounds and two assists, while reigning all-state performer Tyeisha Juhan added five points and four steals but was cold from the field with just 2-of-11 shooting. Sophomore transfer Cydnee Hill pulled down a team-high eight rebounds for the winners.
The Tennessee Prep women, from Memphis, were led by Nykia Perkins' four points.
The East Mississippi basketball teams travel to Meridian to take on the MCC Eagles this coming Monday at Graham Gymnasium. The Lions will then return home to play host to East Central Community College Thursday evening at EMCC's Currie Coliseum. Both hoops doubleheaders this coming week will feature 5:30 p.m. women's games followed by 7:30 p.m. men's contests.