Itawamba turns back Co-Lin Lady Wolves
FULTON – Co-Lin head coach Gwyn Young and his Lady Wolves knew they would have to play their best game against the home-standing Itawamba Lady Indians in order to defend their MACJC State Championship.
The Lady Wolves were unable to overcome a 17-point second half deficit, falling to the Lady Indians 75-67. Itawamba (24-2) won their last state championship in 2008.
In men’s action, the No. 17 Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs (22-4) won their second straight MACJC Championship defeating the Pearl River Wildcats 61-56.
ICC dominated the backboards in the first half out rebounding the Lady Wolves 24-9. Co-Lin (21-5) took an early 6-3 lead on Jasmine James’s bucket with 17:01 left in the first half. A basket by ICC’s Shay Bonner and two steals, which led to easy layups, gave the Lady Indians a 9-6 lead. Co-Lin’s Keosha Bradley would nail a trey to tie the game at 16 with 16:00 remaining in the half. The Lady Indians went to work on the backboards and caused Co-Lin to get into early foul trouble. ICC was shooting bonus free throws at the 9:54 mark of the first half and was able to build a 46-37 halftime lead.
The Lady Indians opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 56-39 lead with 14:52 remaining and it looked like ICC might run away with the game. Bradley picked up her fourth foul with 13:27 left and had to go to the bench. That seemed to inspire the Lady Wolves as they went on a 12-2 run to reduce the ICC lead to 61-53 with 7:53 on the clock.
Co-Lin would continue to chip away at the lead going on a 10-5 run. Chanta Poole nailed at 3-pointer to cut the ICC lead to 68-65 with 2:09 left in the game. But the Lady Wolves would commit a couple of turnovers and ICC would hit 7-of-13 free throws in the final 1:42 to secure the win.
Four Lady Indians would score in double figures led by Bonner with a team-high 19 points. Jameika Hoskins and Vechatita Bonner added 18 points apiece. LaPrecious Naylon chipped in 12 points. Jasmine Hampton led ICC on the backboards with 9 rebounds.
For Co-Lin, James had a game-high 20 points, 16 of those coming in the first half. Bradley pumped in 15 points and Poole added 12 points. James led the Lady Wolves with 8 rebounds.
“We started out really bad and they killed us on the boards in the first half and we weren’t executing,” said Young. “We finally got it together in the second half and had a chance at the end, but we made a couple of turnovers that really hurt us. They (Itawamba) have a really good team.”
Co-Lin’s season will continue as they qualified for the NJCAA Region 23 tournament at the A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College. Women’s action begins on Wednesday with Meridian taking on Jones County at 1 p.m. Co-Lin will play Baton Rouge at 3 p.m. Itawamba plays Coahoma at 6 p.m. followed by Holmes and Pearl River at 8 p.m.
Semifinal action will take place on Friday with the championship game to be played on Saturday. The winner of the Region 23 Tournament will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina, Kansas, March 20-24.