EMCC Lions knock off Northwest 69-55 to advance to MACCC basketball semifinals

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2022

POPLARVILLE — East Mississippi Community College’s fourth-seeded men’s basketball team will join the EMCC women’s team during Wednesday’s semifinals of the MACCC Basketball Tournament. The Lions opened tournament action with Tuesday’s 69-55 quarterfinal-round win over Northwest Mississippi played at the Marvin R. White Coliseum on the Pearl River Community College campus.

Head coach Billy Begley’s 18-6 EMCC Lions will take on the winner of Tuesday’s nightcap game between top seed/tournament host Pearl River and Jones College during Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal-round contest. Tipping off Wednesday’s MACCC semifinals will be head coach Sharon Thompson’s 12-11 EMCC Lady Lions against Coahoma’s Lady Tigers at 1 p.m. All tournament games are being live-streamed at PRCCmedia.com/gold/.

During Tuesday’s opening-round men’s action, the EMCC men jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over Northwest with all five starters each scoring a basket before the Rangers got on the board at the 12:46 mark. Paced by Blake Butler’s dozen points and eight rebounds during the opening 20 minutes of play, the Lions pulled ahead by 13 points (21-8) by the 7:10 mark after the second of his three first-half treys.

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Northwest responded by outscoring EMCC, 13-2, during the final four minutes of the opening half to cut the deficit to just a single point (28-27) by the halftime break.

Following intermission, the two teams exchanged leads three times before the Rangers scored seven straight points to take a 36-30 lead on Zandon Haralson’s three-pointer at the 16:47 mark. With Northwest still owning a four-point advantage (38-34) three minutes later, Butler’s back-to-back baskets fueled a game-changing 17-0 EMCC run that also included three straight Brandon Deravine buckets off the bench and consecutive Danny Washington baskets to lengthen the margin to 13 points (51-38) with nine minutes remaining in the contest.

The Rangers would only manage to get as close as eight points on two occasions the rest of the way, as the Lions pulled away with the 14-point victory during the season’s rubber match between the two teams. EMCC and Northwest split the regular-season meetings with both clubs prevailing on the other’s home floor by nearly identical scores. The Lions avenged their 70-65 home setback on Nov. 4 in Scooba with a 70-64 road triumph in Senatobia a month later (Dec. 2) to open conference play.

Both teams had four players score in double figures during Tuesday’s meeting. Butler finished with a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds for EMCC. Jakorie Smith followed with 13 points and seven boards, while Nick Walker and Traemond Pittman added 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the winning effort.

Joseph Cooper led Northwest with 17 points, followed by James Richards’ 13 points and 10 points apiece from Haralson and Isaiah Gaines.