HED:Defensive change helps ICC women edge Shoals
By D.E. Wheeler
FULTON - Knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and the Itawamba Lady Indians used it effectively Monday in the ICC Classic.
After a 16-point loss last week to Northwest Alabama Shoals, a defensive change helped the Lady Indians to an 84-78 win.
"Last time we played them, we were in a man-to-man, and that just didn't work," Lady Indians head coach Carrie Ball said. "This time we were in a triangle and two.
"They can run and shoot layups, and that's what we had to stop."
Also running and shooting were the Indians, which beat Shoals 86-64. And Northeast swept its early games with Wallace State, the Lady Tigers winning 88-75, and the Tigers winning 82-69.
The Lady Indians' game with Northwest (Ala.) was a close affair throughout, with the visitors leading 33-25 at one point in the first half. Itawamba's biggest lead was 75-65 with four minutes, 43 seconds left in the game after 3-pointer by Melissa Jones.
But Shoals still had its eye on a win. A 3-pointer and a rebound and put back by Akiba Carter was part of a 9-0 run that pulled Northwest to within 75-74 with 3:17 left.
Though not as accurate as Ball would have liked, free throws down the stretch helped ICC keep its lead. Aquanda Stanfield closed out the contest by making the first of two free throws with two seconds left, then grabbing her miss and scoring at the buzzer for the 6-point win.
"I thought Jones did a good job guarding No. 33 (Taquilla Allen)," Ball said of the Lady Indians' defense. "She probably played 35 minutes tonight.
"We're still struggling from the free throw line, but I thought Aquanda Stanfield did a good job from the line."
Jamie Bender paced the ICC offense with 22 points while Stanfield added 17, Jones 13, Stacy North 11 and Nichole Butler 10. Allen led Shoals, which was up 41-40 at the half, with 25 and Niki Elliott had 13.
(M) Itawamba 86, Northwest Shoals 64: First year Indians head coach Marty Cooper got a chance to look at all of his players against Shoals as the lead in the second half stayed around 20 points.
"We're still looking at a lot of different combinations so that when we get to division play, we'll have the rotation down the way we want it," Cooper said. "We all played well tonight.
"We had been trying to get Darrel Traylor on track because we'll need him to shoot from the outside later in the season."
Traylor, a freshman from Tupelo, had his stroke on track in the first half, scoring eight of his 10 points as ICC built a 45-32 lead. Former Tupelo teammate Willie Poster led the Indians with 20, with Walter Jackson adding 15 and Marc Ridout 11, while Josh Jackson led Shoals with 13.
(W) Northeast 88, Wallace State 75: Kamiya Thorned scored 23 points to help the Lady Tigers (2-1) break open a tight game. Northeast led 37-36 at the half. Jill Goolsby added 18 points and Jill McClarin scored 14.
(M) Northeast 82, Wallace State 69: The Tigers (2-3) moved to a 42-31 lead at the half, then held on with Guy Gardner hitting 19, Shawn High 16, Eric Batchelor 15 and Demaro Watson 11.
Play continues today with Northeast playing Shoals at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and ICC playing Wallace State at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.