Booneville, Miss. – Northeast Mississippi Community College's basketball programs must resume their normal pace quickly with two huge home contests looming upon returning from the initial lengthy layoff of the 2014-15 campaign.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers open Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division play this Thursday, December 4 when East Mississippi Community College visits the City of Hospitality.
Before the conference tilts in the latter half of the week, Northeast welcomes Arkansas Baptist College to historic Bonner Arnold Coliseum on Tuesday for one final tune-up doubleheader.
The action gets underway at 5:30 p.m. each evening with women's action first followed by the men's game approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the lid lifter.
Those that cannot attend the matchups can watch them live on NEMCCTV, which is the new broadcast home of all nine Northeast intercollegiate athletic programs. Join Jeremy Kennedy, the Voice of the Tigers, at 5:15 p.m. every night for the pregame show by visiting www.nemcctv.com.
Fans can also keep up during the contests with live in-game updates on Twitter by searching and following @NEMCCTigers.
Both Northeast squads are thrilled about the start of conference competition as they seek to capitalize on a solid opening month of the new season.
"The beginning of division play is an exciting time," said Tigers head coach Cord Wright. "It will be a great challenge for us, but we hope that being at home and in front of a great crowd will give us the extra boost that we will need."
Northeast fields one of the most successful units at the charity stripe in the entire National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The Tigers are currently 13th countrywide and second in the state with a 74.4 free throw percentage.
Desmin Harris guides that effort for Northeast and is perfect on his free shot attempts through six outings. Dimario Jackson remains a steady athletes during his sophomore year and leads the Tigers with 15.3 points per matchup.
The combination of Raheem Sorrell and Dexter Stafford in the post has proven to be dangerous for Northeast's opposition. Sorrell is second with 9.2 points each contest for the Tigers (3-3) while Stafford averages a team-high 5.7 rebounds.
Northeast's women, which already own victories against reigning NJCAA National Tournament participants Baton Rouge (La.) Community College and Southwest Mississippi Community College, look to add another marquee win to their resume when they face the defending MACJC North Division champion Lady Lions.
"This is a big week for us," Lady Tigers headman Brian Alexander said. "We are excited about the opportunity to play these critical games in front of our fans."
Daisha Williams is pacing a Northeast squad that is 18th in the NJCAA with 83.8 points per matchup. The Columbus native has tallied 14.8 points each outing and is one of just three student-athletes in the country to wield a perfect free throw percentage through November.
Arkansas Baptist has lost 11 consecutive women's contests since opening the campaign with a win over Kaskaskia (Ill.) College. The Lady Buffaloes feature three double-digit scorers, including Chelsea Payne's 12.2 points and Emani Hamilton's 10.3 points per game.
Sixteen different men have scored for a deep Arkansas Baptist (7-5) roster. Sophomore Fred Albright is one of the elite players for the Buffaloes with 14.7 points, six rebounds and three assists per tilt.
Former prep All-American Ki-Ki Patterson is East Mississippi's top threat with 16.3 points on six made field goals each outing. Ashley Johnson is strong on the boards for the Lady Lions (2-4) with an average of 10.
East Mississippi appears at No. 24 in the NJCAA's preseason rankings. The Lions use a high-octane offense on the men's side with four double-digit scorers and 89.3 points through its inaugural three matchups as a unit.
Antonio Finley is the lone returning starter for East Mississippi (2-1) and is recording a team leading 22 points. La'Datren Deas and Jahyde Gardiner follow Finley with 10.7 points apiece.
It is the first meetings between Arkansas Baptist and Northeast since January 30, 2012 while East Mississippi swept the pair of twinbills between the two longtime adversaries one season ago.