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State tourney has definite local ties

STEADY SHOOTER: Former Pearl River Central High School standout Ashton Woodson is in his first year with the Jones County Bobcats.  Photo courtesy of JCJC

STEADY SHOOTER: Former Pearl River Central High School standout Ashton Woodson is in his first year with the Jones County Bobcats.
Photo courtesy of JCJC

FULTON — The first day of the 2014 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Basketball Tournament tipped off here on the campus of Itawamba CC Monday afternoon.

And the first session at the Davis Events Center definitely had a local feel to it.

The defending men’s state champion Pearl River CC faced East Mississippi, and the Lions staged a second half rally to beat the Wildcats 73-68.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead, and thanks to 15 first half points by Quintavious Porter led 38-32 at halftime.

But the Lions proved why they have won four consecutive Region 23 titles, as they steadily chipped away at the deficit and finally thanks to a 21-5 run took the lead with just over five minutes to play on a 3-pointer by Devonta Pollard.

Jacolby Mobley tallied a game high 25 points for EMCC.

In the first game of the day, Jones JC smacked Coahoma 84-57.

Former Pearl River Central High School standout Ashton Woodson scored nine points in the win for the Bobcats. The former Blue Devil has been a valuable performer for head coach Jay Ladner at Jones this season.

“We expected Ashton to have an impact for us this year, and he has,” Ladner, whose team is an impressive 20-4 on the year, said. “He is a complete basketball player. I expect if he continues to work hard and improve they way we know he can, that he will have a great chance at playing Division One college basketball.”

There were two more men’s games Monday night.

“This is going to be a very tough tournament,” said ICC men’s basketball coach Grant Pate.

The women will take center stage on Tuesday when No. 2 seed Meridian Community College takes on No. 3 seed Mississippi Delta Community College at 1:00 p.m. and No. 1 seed East Mississippi faces off against No. 4 seed Southwest Mississippi at 3:00 p.m. in the quarterfinals afternoon session.

No. 1 seed Jones County will play No. 4 seed Northwest Mississippi at 6:00 p.m. before the No. 2 seed ICC Lady Indians wraps up the evening session at 8:00 p.m. against No. 3 seed Pearl River.

“It’s going to be a battle,” ICC women’s coach Nanci Gray commented. “Our division was very competitive with all four teams neck-and-neck throughout the regular season and then the South Division had a three-way tie for the top spot and the No. 4 team was a win away from being the No. 1 seed and even the No. 4 seed had to be determined on a tiebreaker as well.”

Wednesday’s semifinals will feature four games beginning with the women at 1:00 p.m. and will conclude with the men at 8:00 p.m.

The women will start the championship round at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and the men’s championship will follow at 8:00 p.m.

Most teams competing in the MACJC Tournament will participate in the Region 23 March 5-8 at Mississippi College in Clinton.