BOONEVILLE – Staying firmly entrenched in the MACJC North Division championship picture, the visiting East Mississippi Community College basketball teams convincingly swept Northeast Mississippi during Monday's division doubleheader played at Bonner Arnold Coliseum. With the hoops twinbill moved up a couple of hours due to impending wintry weather across the state, the EMCC women claimed their seventh straight division win by beating the Lady Tigers 80-67, while the Lions won their sixth game in a row with a 95-59 rout of the Northeast men.
With the impressive road sweep in hand, the EMCC teams now turn their collective attention to Thursday's crucial home doubleheader against rival Itawamba Community College. In the women's division, EMCC (13-7 overall) and ICC (12-8) are tied atop the standings with identical 8-1 marks, though the Lady Lions presently hold the tiebreaker edge by previously claiming a 74-70 double-overtime victory in Fulton last month. On the men's side, the Indians (13-7 overall) are also 8-1 and leading the division, while the EMCC men (15-4) are right on ICC's heels at 6-2 in division play despite dropping a 107-103 double-overtime decision at Itawamba on Jan. 21.
In Monday's opener at Northeast, the EMCC women led from start to finish after racing out to an 11-4 advantage. After increasing the lead to as many as 15 points (34-19) with three minutes left in the opening period, the Lady Lions settled for a 38-28 halftime margin.
The home-standing Lady Tigers did manage to trim the deficit to seven points on a couple of occasions early in the second stanza, but that's when EMCC sophomore post player Savannah Kimmons began to take over the contest almost single-handedly. Following a 10-point first half on 5-of-7 shooting, Kimmons was virtually unstoppable down low for the winners over the game's final 20 minutes. The former Horn Lake High School product missed only one field goal in 13 second-half attempts en route to pumping in a career-high 36 points. Along with her 17-of-20 accuracy within the paint, Kimmons added eight rebounds, including five offensive boards.
The facilitator of many of Kimmons' inside looks, sophomore guard Takera Mitchell, of Wayne County, handed out eight assists to go along with her 15 points and three steals.
Dropping to 6-14 overall and 1-8 in division play, the Northeast women had four players score in double figures, led by Antionette Riddle's 17 points.
In the men's nightcap, the visitors led comfortably from just after the opening tip-off until the final buzzer. Establishing early dominance in the contest, the Lions jumped out of the gates with an 11-2 burst. The margin grew to 20 points (41-21) by the 3:40 mark and lengthened to 28 points before the 53-28 halftime tally.
The Tigers battled in the second half but couldn't overcome the insurmountable margin. A Mack Foster 3-pointer made it 82-51 late in the half before the cushion ultimately ballooned to 38 points (95-57) in the game's waning seconds on a Davon "Chuck" Ester triple.
Five Lion scorers finished in double digits, led by Jacolby Mobley's game-high 25 points, including 16 in the opening half. Ester and Avery Woodson each posted 14-point halves and tallied 16 points apiece for the game, while Devonta Pollard and Justin Kinsey added 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
Falling to 4-16 overall and 1-8 within the division, the Northeast men were led by Dimario Jackson's 20 points.
Thursday's critical EMCC-ICC hoops doubleheader is slated to get underway on the Scooba campus with a 5:30 p.m. women's contest, in which fans are encouraged to wear pink as part of the nation's Play 4Kay initiative to raise breast cancer awareness and funds for research in honor of the late North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow. A 7:30 p.m. men's battle between the Lions and Indians will follow at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.