BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/NEMCC Athletics) - The Northeast Mississippi Community College basketball programs had an exceptional 2016-17 campaign that included deep runs into the postseason.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers hope to raise the bar even higher during the 2017-18 season, which features a schedule that has 13 total home dates and several challenges from start to finish.
“Last year we were able to get back in the state playoffs and advance to regionals so we’re hoping to improve on that,” said Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes. “It’s going to be tough, but you want it to be tough so you’ll know how to handle adversity when you get on down the road.”
Northeast begins its new year on the hardwood with three consecutive doubleheaders inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum during the first two full weeks of November.
The Lady Tigers get things underway by facing Shelton State (Ala.) Community College, which finished third in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Tournament one season ago, on Thursday, November 6.
The reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division champions christen their slate that same night by hosting first-time opponent Faith Prepatory Academy of West Memphis, Ark.
Both squads welcome Lawson State (Ala.) Community College and Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College to the City of Hospitality during that opening home stretch as well.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers each have big plans for the first holiday break of the campaign with two-day tournaments at two different locations across the Magnolia State.
Northeast’s women will compete in the Northwest Tri-State Classic from November 16-17. The Lady Tigers enter into the Thanksgiving hiatus by battling Mineral Area (Mo.) College and Lawson State at Howard Coliseum in Senatobia.
The Tigers travel 300-plus miles south from November 20-21 to take part in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Thanksgiving Classic. Northeast is matched with a pair of fellow NJCAA Region 23 members in Baton Rouge (La.) Community College and Southern (La.) University at Shreveport.
“That’ll be a quick turnaround for our guys,” said Tigers head coach Cord Wright, “but when you get to the state and region tournament you’re in that situation as well. Hopefully this will kind of get their mindset ready.”
Northeast kicks off the MACJC North Division portion of its agenda on the road versus Coahoma Community College for the second straight year on Monday, December 4.
The only games on campus during the month of December are on the 8th against Southern-Shreveport. The Lady Tigers and Tigers then visit Arkansas State University Mid-South and Lawson State before pausing their respective campaigns for Christmas.
“You always want to play some games that are going to put your guys in tough situations,” Wright said. “This should give our guys an opportunity early to get some good opponents at home as well go on the road to see where we’re at going into conference play.”
MACJC North Division competition ramps up quickly following the final holiday recess on Thursday, January 11 when Northwest Mississippi Community College makes the short trip to Northeast.
Other keynote dates on the calendar include the annual rivalry series between Northeast and Itawamba Community College, which begins in Booneville on Monday, January 22 and ends in Fulton on Thursday, February 15.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers will recognize the accomplishments and service of their sophomore class on Monday, February 19 before the regular season finale against Mississippi Delta Community College.
“We’ve got to be ready to compete every day that we step out onto the court,” Mayes said. “It will be another competitive year. We get some early tests to see what we’re made of and where we are.”
The North Division men’s champion gains hosting privileges for the MACJC State Tournament while the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament returns to Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers are two of the most tradition-rich programs in the entire country. They have together combined for one national championship, 16 state titles and 26 NJCAA All-Americans.