NORTHEAST EDGES ITAWAMBA FROM THE FREE THROW LINE
By Todd Vinyard
CLARKSDALE The free throw line.
Northeast and Itawamba spent most of their second round North Division Tournament game there Tuesday night.
Northeast made 25-of-31 from the chairity stripe, while being whistled for 20 fouls. ICC converted 24-of-29 free throws, while being charged with 27 fouls.
Oh, by the way, in the actual game Northeast won 84-82 after trailing by seven with 3 minutes, 25 seconds to go.
The Northeast win means it will play North Division champion Northwest (21-4) at 4 p.m. today. In the evening contest, Itawamba's Lady Indians shocked Holmes 77-74, and will face Northwest (19-5) at 2 p.m. today.
Also tonight at 6, Northeast's Lady Tigers (17-8), who won 93-72 over East Mississippi Monday, meet tourney host Coahoma at 6 p.m.
In a game of fouls the biggest one came with 1:54 left when ICC's leading scorer, Ricardo Curry, fouled out on a charging call.
At the time ICC was leading 79-78, but Northeast's Cedrick Wallace hit a jumper from the foul line at the 1:41 mark to give the Tigers the lead for good at 80-79.
"When Ricardo got his fifth foul it really hurt," said ICC coach Wayne Newsom, whose team finishes 11-13 for the year. "If we could have scored there it might have been our game, but Ricardo just didn't fake his man enough.The officiating was so tight you really couldn't play."
Fittingly in a game dominated by foul shots, Northeast's Jason Wilson hit 4-of-4 free throws to ice the victory. ICC's Michael Trimble fired up a 3-pointer which missed as the buzzer sounded. Newsom wanted a foul called, but didn't get it.
"I don't know if one of us was more physical than the other," Northeast coach Mike Lewis said. "The key for us is we stayed after it and made some baskets when we had to and finally did a good job on defense."
Neither team could get much of an advantage in the first half as the lead changed hands seven times before halftime when Northeast (16-6) led 36-33.
ICC made a 7-4 run mainly behind five points from guard Blaine Mahaffey to tie the game 40-40 to start the second half.
The Indians built a lead of as many as 10 points and were in command until Rodney Gambill drained a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 74-72 at 4:11.
"Being as small a team as we are we all just have to step up," Gambill said. "Down the stretch it was Cedrick."
Wallace had a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. Northeast got 22 points from Richard Duncan and 12 from Gambill.
Northeast used three different players to hold Curry to 12 points, but four other Indians made double figures.
For Itawamba, Mahaffey scored 17 points, Montero Evans had 14, Michael Bramlett had 12 and Michael Trimble had 11.
(W) Itawamba 77, Holmes 74: After a season of baby steps the Lady Indians learned to walk and took off running.
A team whose record now improves to 9-13 overall and starts five freshmen showed poise beyond its years.
The Lady Indians kept fighting back after opening the game down 10-3.
"We talked all week about staying under control, if the ball game is close stay under control," Lady Indian coach Carrie Ball said. "We had people come in and hit free throws when we had to have them."
Besides some clutch shooting from Felecia Pulliam and Tameka Sharp, ICC used a full-court press to get back in the contest. The Lady Indians forced 23 turnovers, creating several easy shots.
"Their press killed us, we just couldn't handle it," Holmes coach Larry Therrell said. "That and we just could not stop Tameka Sharp. She was fantastic."
Sharp poured in 27 points.
"We have lost to this team twice by two points each time, so we wanted a victory," Sharp said. "We beat them when it counted."
Pulliam scored 13 for ICC and Shana Mabry added 11. For Holmes (17-9), Elizabeth Mosby matched Sharp with 27 points, Candice Edwards had 17, and Jamie King chipped in 13.