• 70°

East Central’s muscle overpowers CL women

WESSON — East Central Community College women’s basketballcoach Brad Hodge called it his team’s biggest game of the year. HisLady Warriors responded with an impressive 72-57 Thursday night winover Co-Lin’s Lady Wolves in a South Division showdown.

The victory secured first place in the South Division race andNo. 1 seeding out of the South for the Lady Warriors who improvedto 21-2 overall and 11-1 in the South. The MJCAA State Tournamentstarts Feb. 24, probably at Booneville, home of nationally-rankedNo. 4 Northeast.

“This win guaranteed us No. 1,” said Hodge. “Our girls insideare sophomores and they played well together.”

Led by slender 6-foot sophomore forward Kimyatta Viverette’s 16points and 7 rebounds, East Central proved its superiority insidewith strength, depth and quickness. East Central is ranked No. 17nationally.

Co-Lin post player Victoria Richardson picked up 2 quickpersonal fouls and fellow post player Lauren Williams also foundearly trouble. They both fouled out in the final 4 minutes of thegame.

Viverette, who played high school ball at Lake, had plenty ofoffensive support. Point guard Kristin Chaney tossed in 15 points,many on second-half layups. Kotreece Bender, a 5-11 forward fromNewton, sacked 13 points and 5 rebounds. Rita Birden, a 5-9 guardfrom Monroe, La., added 12 points.

“We were able to make some defensive stops when we needed to,”said Hodge. “Co-Lin made some crucial turnovers.”

The Lady Wolves (14-7, 9-3) can clinch second place in the Southand No. 2 seeding in the state tournament with wins over Southwestand Hinds next week. They were unable to handle East Central’saggressive style of play.

Freshman playmaker Gloria Lewis was the only Co-Lin player indouble figures, scoring 14 points. Williams and Jessica Melton ledthe team in rebounding with 6 boards apiece.

Co-Lin head coach Gwyn Young said he was disappointed with histeam’s performance. “We didn’t handle the basketball like we neededto and we didn’t run our offense very well. We didn’t have enoughmental toughness to play through the hard times and we make gooddecisions.

“East Central played very hard defensively and we lost ourcool,” Young continued. “They got too many offensive rebounds onus. We didn’t shoot free throws very well,” making 11 of 22.

Co-Lin made a run at the Warriors when Dana King and Meltonsacked consecutive treys and Melton sank a baseline jumper,reducing their team’s deficit to 31-30 with 3:52 left in the firsthalf. Willis, a hustling guard from Philadelphia, sank a layup togive the Warriors a 33-30 lead.

Midway through the second half, East Central held an 8-point,51-43 lead. Co-Lin reduced the deficit to 5 points, 54-49, on aWilliams jumper but East Central got a trey from Bender to ignitean 18-8 run in the final 7 minutes of the game.