Athletic Year Recaps
2011-12 Athletic Year
Northeast Mississippi Community College athletics continued to prove that it was one of the best athletic programs in not just the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior College (MACJC) but in the nation as well. From the softball diamond, to the football gridiron to the basketball hardwood, Northeast's athletic programs were continually ranked by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) as one of the best in the nation.
Leading the way during the 2011-12 season was the Lady Tiger softball team that brought back a MACJC state runner-up trophy to Booneville. Under the guidance of head coach Jody Long, Northeast finished the season with a 32-19 record and posted a school-record for North Division wins with 17. During the course of the 2011-12 season, Northeast finished as the third team from the North Division but parlayed that finish into a state runner-up finish against Jones County at the MACJC State Tournament in Fulton and then continued its postseason momentum as Northeast was one of the last three teams left standing at the NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament in Clinton.
Long's Lady Tigers not only did work on the field but were successful in the classroom as well with seven member of the Northeast softball team being selected for NJCAA Student-Athlete Academic Awards and the team as a whole was honored by the NJCAA for its academic work when the Lady Tigers were ranked as the thirteenth best team in the nation with a 3.42 overall grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale.
Northeast's highlight of the year came during it annual StrikeOut Cancer doubleheader that saw redshirt freshman Jaisa Fox (Cincinnati, Ohio) throw a perfect game against Mississippi Delta and freshman pitcher Erin Dixson (Amherst, New York) followed up with a no-hitter in the nightcap. For her effort, Fox was named the NJCAA Pitcher of the Week and by the end of the season, Northeast was receiving votes in the NJCAA Top 20 Softball Poll.
On the heels of the softball team's success, Ricky Smither's football team turned in a 6-4 record while playing one of the toughest schedules in the MACJC. During the course of the 2011 season, Northeast faced off against three teams that were ranked during the season including the eventual NJCAA national and MACJC state champion East Mississippi, sixth-place Mississippi Gulf Coast and NorthwestMississippi. After starting the season strong, Smither and crew were ranked as high as twelfth in the country during the October 4, 2011 NJCAA Top 20 football poll and capitalized on that 5-0 start to a place in the MACJC State Football Playoffs. Northeast carried South Division winner Mississippi Gulf Coast too overtime before falling on the Bulldogs' home field 20-17. With the football team's success, Northeast athletes were also selected for individual honors by the NJCAA.
Deion Belue, a corner back from Tuscumbia, Ala., was named an NJCAA honorable mention All-American while Frankie Lee, a defensive back from Charleston, was picked as the NJCAA Player of the Week when the Tigers knocked off Northwest Mississippi in Senatobia behind Lee's three interceptions.
Under first-year head coach Brian Alexander, the Lady Tiger basketball team finished 9-15 overall but qualified for the MACJC State Basketball Tournament in Fulton with a dramatic 104-102 overtime win against Mississippi Delta on Sophomore Night at Bonner Arnold Coliseum in Booneville. Led by sophomore Anna Brooke Page of Belmont and Amber Jackson of Tupelo, the Northeast Lady Tiger basketball team adapted to Alexander's style of play and ended up giving Copiah-Lincoln a run during the first round of the MACJC State Tournament before falling 76-63 to the Lady Wolves. Under Page and Jackson's leadership, the Lady Tigers not only became a force on the hardwood but also became stewards in the classroom as well with Page and Bree Harris of New Site being selected for NJCAA Student-Athlete Academic Awards at the end of the season.
In addition the NJCAA Student-Athlete Academic Awards, a handful of Lady Tigers were also members of the Iota Zeta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and Page and Jackson signed to play on the four-year level at Blue Mountain College and William Carey University, respectively.
Under Kent Farris, Northeast's baseball team once again advanced to the MACJC State Baseball Playoffs after knocking off rival Itawamba during a Sophomore Day doubleheader at Harold T. White Field in Booneville.
After falling behind 8-0 to the Indians, Northeast responded with 18 unanswered runs over its next four at bats in run-ruling Itawamba 18-8 in six innings. The 10-run win on Wednesday, April 25 springboarded the Tigers into the MACJC State Baseball Playoffs where the Tigers played a marathon game one against Mississippi Gulf Coast that ended at 1 a.m. at Biloxi High School after the best-of-three series was moved to Biloxi due to inclement weather.
On the year, Northeast finished 18-28 but 13-10 in the North Division and was the fourth seed from the division while eight Tigers went on to sign four-year scholarships. Taylor Bonifacio (Hurley), Daymon Eriksen (Grand Prairie, Texas), Morgan McCarley (Vina, Ala.) and Eric Wilson (Southaven) each signed with the University of North Alabama while Beau Cummings (Myrtle), Corey Smith (New Albany) and Trae Allison (Hernando) all agreed to become Toppers at Blue Mountain College. Blake Littlejohn of Pontotoc signed to play for the Majors at Millsaps College in Jackson.
Under David Robbins, Northeast men's basketball team started the season strong and posted a 7-1 mark at the Christmas holiday break and carried a 10-2 overall record into the January 18, 2012 NJCAA Top 20 poll where the Tigers were ranked thirteenth in the nation. Northeast continued to build on its early success and finished the year with a 14-9 mark and tied for fourth in the North Division but lost out on a tiebreaker with Itawamba for a spot in the MACJC State Basketball Tournament. However, the Tigers did have three players selected to the MACJC All-State team with Acie Vance (Ripley), Lavon Hooks (Atlanta, Georgia) and Jermaine Hollimon (Memphis, Tenn.) all being selected for postseason accolades. Vance was the North Division's leading scorer with 16.9 points per game and finished second in the MACJC while Hooks led the North Division and the MACJC with 8.6 rebounds per game. Hollimon and Cedric Janes of Dyersburg, Tenn., were also selected to play in the MACJC North-South All-Star game inDecatur.
Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Lynn Smither; the Tiger and Lady Tiger tennis teams saw a variety of success. In just her second match as tennis coach, Smither helped both the Tigers and Lady Tigers sweep nationally-ranked Hinds in Raymond and set the tone for the rest of the season.
Northeast's Lady Tiger tennis team finished with a 5-8 overall mark but advanced deep in the MACJC State Tennis Championships in Tupelo thanks to momentum from the last three matches of the regular season. Northeast finished the regular season with a three-match winning streak dispatching Holmes twice and East Central in a10-day span.
On the men's side of the nets, Northeast's Tiger tennis team posted a 3-10 overall record but came within one point of winning three other matches on the year dropping 5-4 decisions to Holmes, Copiah-Lincoln and nationally-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast. During the season, the Tigers helped secure the sweep of nationally-ranked Hinds early in the year and completed the season sweep ofEast Central with 6-3, 8-1 decisions over the Warriors.
Under first year head coach Mike Anderson, Northeast's golf team recorded its highest finish of the year when it mattered the most. Northeast finished fifth at the NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament at Big Oaks in Tupelo -- an event the Tigers hosted.
During the 2012 season, the Tigers started and capped their seasons with fifth place finishes – their best finishes of the year.
In the opening Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) tour stop of the year hosted by Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Tigers finished in a tie for fifth and in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XXIII Golf Championships Northeast also brought home a fifth place finish.
In between the two fifth place finishes, Northeast carded a seventh place finish at the second MACJC tour stop of the year hosted by Hinds Community College, a sixth place finish at the third tour stop of the year hosted by Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Northeast also came away with a seventh place finish at the fourth tour stop of the year hosted by East Mississippi Community College held at the Mississippi State University golf course and in their final regular season match, the Tigers rallied on the second day to finish sixth in the Northwest Invitational.
At Riverbirch in Amory, Northeast marked a seventh place finish in the MACJC State Golf Championships hosted by Itawamba Community College before moving on to region competition.
Under the direction of Jennifer Johnson, the 10-member Northeast cheerleading squad continued to show support for Tiger and Lady Tiger athletics and serve as an ambassador for the Northeast athletic program. From on the sidelines of a football game to the hardwood of a gymnasium, Northeast cheerleaders were on hand to cheer on the Tiger and Lady Tigers and actively engaged crowd support for the Northeast teams.
Correl Hoyle of Tiplersville was chosen as the Tiger mascot "Spirit" for the 2011-12 team and engaged the crowd. Northeast's cheerleading squad was not just limited to sporting events, Cheerleaders were a vital part of being an ambassador for Northeast athletics -- from Northeast Now, to the annual "Friends of the Tiger" golf tournament to the Booneville Christmas parade, Northeast cheerleaders were on the forefront of showing the community Northeast athletics.
2010-11 Athletic Year
Throughout the 2010-11 academic year, the Northeast athletic department continued to bring praise to the college. Whether it was on the gridiron, hardwood, diamond, tennis courts or the golf course, Northeast athletics continued to excel inside and outside of the classroom.
Ricky Smither’s Tiger football team posted the twelfth winning season in the college’s 51-year football history when Smither’s troops finished with a 5-4 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division in 2010. Northeast’s 4-2 mark in the North Division helped the Tigers finish in a tie for second place in the ultra competitive North Division.
Northeast garnered national attention during week six of the season after the Tigers were able to knock off defending MACJC State Champion East Mississippi 49-42 in a shootout in Scooba where Tiger running back Jaquise Cook (Ripley) Ran for 267 yards and four scores against the Lions. Cook was awarded the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Player of the Week honors following his week six performance.
In addition to posting the team’s first winning season since 2005, the Tiger football team also captured the attention of the national media when Northeast was included in the NJCAA National Top 20 Football Poll for the week of October 19, 2010 at No. 18 after the Tigers opened up the season 5-2.
Not to be outdone, five different Tigers were honored by the MACJC with All-State status with wide receiver Josh Jarboe (Atlanta, Ga.), defensive back Brynden Trawick (Atlanta, Ga.), linebacker Anthony Brown (Cairo, Ga.), defensive back Jeremy Spikner (Olive Branch) and offensive lineman Antonio Foster (Valdosta, Ga.) all being selected to the All-State squad. Foster continued to represent the Tigers on the NJCAA Region XXIII squad and became the first Tiger football player to garner All-American status in 30 years when the Valdosta, Georgia native was selected as an honorable mention All-American.
On the hardwood, David Robbins led the Tiger basketball team to appearances in the MACJC State Tournament and the NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament after finishing as the North Division runner-up with a 7-5 mark in the North Division and an 11-14 mark overall. The Tigers found the same opponent awaiting them in both the state and region tournaments – 19th-ranked Pearl River Community College – and the Tigers gave the Wildcats a run in the state tournament before falling in overtime 92-83.
Due to his effort on the court, sophomore point guard Tyler Pritchard (Iuka) was honored as a NJCAA Region XXIII selection after his 19-point effort against Pearl River in the Region XXIII Tournament and the Northeast sophomore was selected to play in the MACJC All-Star Basketball Game in Decatur following the season.
In women’s basketball, Ricky Ford’s longtime run as Lady Tiger head coach came to an end after 30 years when Ford stepped down following the Lady Tigers appearance in the post-season. Ford helped lead the Lady tigers to a fourth place finish in the North Division (6-6) and faced off with the MACJC 2010-11 state champion and state tournament host Copiah-Lincoln Community College in the first round of the state tournament.
After posting a 11-12 overall mark, the Lady Tigers had a pair of individuals selected for the MACJC All-North Division second team as Erin Strowder (Memphis, Tenn.) and Anna Brooke Page (Belmont) garnered individual honors.
Sophomore point guard Amber Johnson (Pine Grove) was selected to play in the MACJC All-Star Basketball Game in Decatur following the season.
Ford wrapped up his 30-year coaching career at Northeast with a 588-226 collegiate record and carries a 72.7 winning percentage overall with a 676-253 record.
On the tennis courts, Jeff Melson continued to transform the Tiger and Lady Tiger tennis teams into state and national contenders.
During the 2010 MACJC state tournament, Northeast saw its whirlwind season come to an end as the Tigers placed four matches into the semi-finals of the state tournaments and the Lady Tigers had two matches reach semi-final status with Chelsey Whitaker (Alcorn Central) reaching the finals of the state tournament.
Led by sophomores Ward Bynum, Colin Holley, Ben Ferrell, Ben Ford and Matt Murphy, the Tiger team had one of its most successful season in recent history and finished the year ranked in the top 30 by the International Tennis Association (ITA) at the end of the season.
On the links, Craig Lauderdale continued to keep the Northeast Tiger golf team in the national spotlight as Austin Holt (New Albany) continued Northeast’s streak of national tournament appearances when the Tiger sophomore qualified for the NJCAA National Golf Championships at Goosepond Colony Golf Course in Scottsboro, Ala., in May.
In 2010, a pair of Tiger linksters – Blake Hatfield (Booneville) and Brandon Robbins (Corinth) – qualified for the national event while Hatfield made a solo appearance in Northeast’s first year back in Division II competition in 2009.
During the 2007 and 2008 season, Northeast went undefeated through the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) Division III ranks and captured the Region XXIII crown and appeared in the NJCAA Division III National Golf Championship in Jamestown, NY.
Holt rallied back on the final day of the four-day national event to finish in a tie for 57th overall with a four-day 305.
On the softball diamond, Jody Long’s Lady Tigers returned to the 2010-11 MACJC State Tournament in Perkinston and gave host Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College a run in the first round of the tournament before seeing their season come to an end.
Northeast finished a 25-23 record on the softball diamond and the program sits just one win shy of the 300-win plateau since switching over to fast-pitch competition in 2011.
In 11seasons, Northeast is 299-232 and has a 137-56 record in the North Divisionheading into the 2012 campaign.
With its 25 wins during the 2010-11 season, Northeast recorded its most wins since the 2008 Lady Tiger softball team pieced together a 34-20 mark en route to a North Division championship.
On the baseball diamond, Kent Farris’ club finished the year with a 22-20 mark and was 12-12 in the North Division and came away with a season split against rival Itawamba Community College claiming a 4-2 victory in Fulton and 6-1 decision against the Indians in Booneville on April 13.
Corey Smith of New Albany and Jacob Long of Vardaman were named to the MACJC All-State first team while Trae Allison of Hernando and Will Wallis of Ripley were named to the All-State second team. Jordan Gurley of Corinth was awarded with a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Region XXIII golden glove selection at third base.
Northeast’s cheerleaders made the successful transition from a co-ed squad in the 2009-10 season to a squad of 10 during the 2010-11 year under the leadership of cheerleading coach Jennifer Johnson.
2009-10 Athletic Year
Northeast’s athletic teams gave us all reasons to remember why we love and support Tiger athletes every year and the 2009-10 school year was no exception.
Head Golf Coach Craig Lauderdale’s team claimed the headlines for the college and leading the way for the Tigers were Blake Hatfield (Booneville), Daniel Singh (Haleyville, Ala.), and Brandon Robbins (Corinth). Both Hatfield and Singh were selected as Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State golf team selectees.
Hatfield, Robbins and Singh teamed up to help Lauderdale’s squad finish as state runners-up in the MACJC State Tournament as well as the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XXIII Tournament.
Hatfield claimed the state’s overall individual title as the team was ranked as high as number 13 in both the NJCAA’s April 22 and 29 polls and had two players -- Robbins and Hatfield -- qualify for the National Tournament. Hatfield finished sixth in the national tournament earning All-American honors.
Northeast’s baseball team continued to make its mark as a premier sport for the Tigers by appearing in the MACJC State Playoffs for the third straight year. Head Coach Kent Farris’ club advanced as the third seed from the North Division and traveled to Hinds Community College to face the Eagles who was the south runner-up. Unfortunately, Northeast was unable to get by Hinds in the first-round, best-of-three series and finished the season with an overall record of 25-27.
However, Farris had a quintet of players selected to the 2010 MACJC All-State first and second teams. Sophomores Brandon Farley (Cookeville, Tenn.) and Michael Collie (Houston, Tenn.) made the first team while freshmen Ben Wallis (Ripley), Jordan Gurley (Corinth), and Blake Powell (Germantown, Tenn.) landed second team honors.
It was another successful year on the hardwood for the men’s basketball team as head coach David Robbins directed the Tigers to a third place finish in the north division. Robbins’ squad qualified for the MACJC State Tournament for the second year in a row but was knocked out in the first round by Jones County Junior College.
The season didn’t end at the state tournament however, as Northeast also qualified for the Region 23 Tournament which was held at Mississippi College in Clinton where the Tigers were matched up against the north division champs East Mississippi Community College -- a team Northeast beat in its final regular season game at Bonner Arnold Coliseum. Northeast was unable to get by the Lions and finished with an overall record of 12-11 and 7-5 in the north.
Chris Gamble (New Albany) and Terrance Allen (Ridgeland) represented the Tigers at the 2010 MACJC All-Star game while Tyler Pritchard (Iuka) and Tyrie Berry (Ripley) were MACJC All-Division selectees -- with Pritchard being first team and Berry receiving second team honors.
In its second year at Division I play, the Tiger tennis team continued to show improvement with commander-in-chief Jeff Melson at the helm. Melson continued to pave the way for the tennis program guiding his team to some key victories during the 2010 season. Those key wins included back-to-back-to-back wins verses Holmes (March 23), Pearl River (March 29) and East Central on April 1.
However, the biggest victory for Melson and company came against perennial power Pearl River Community College on March 29, where the Tigers brought out the brooms against the Wildcats.
The women’s tennis team clinched a winning record in the regular season for the first time since 1998 finishing 5-2 overall while the men completed the season at 5-3.
On the gridiron, Northeast got one step closer to its goal of returning to their winning ways under its second-year head man Ricky Smither.
Smither’s unit may have only garnered a pair of wins during the 2009 season but, one of those victories had more weight than perhaps the whole season, when the Tigers were able to defeat their archrivals Itawamba Community College on September 10 28-21.
Northeast picked up win number two at home on September 24 verses Holmes Community College 25-10. One of the key players for Smither in 2009 was sophomore running back Jeremy Cannon (New Albany) who joined rare company by breaking the 1,000-yard rushing mark on October 24 verses Northwest Mississippi Community College. Cannon finished the season with 1,002 yards.
Smither also had other notable players on his roster which included defensive tackle John Brown (Lakeland, Fla.), who signed with the University of Tennessee Volunteers, along with defensive back/wide receiver LaDarrius Madden (Leighton, Ala.) and offensive lineman Demarkus Underwood (Tuscumbia, Ala.), who both signed with Troy University, and defensive back John Ware (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) who inked with the University of North Alabama.
The Tigers had seven players selected to the MACJC All-State football team, three players as MACJC All-Region selectees and four players to play in the 2009 MACJC All-Star Classic.
Long time women’s basketball coach Ricky Ford’s Lady Tigers struggled during the 2009-10 season finishing with an overall record of 7-13 and 5-7 in the north division. The highlight of the season came on February 8 when the Lady Tigers snapped a five-game slide by beating rival Itawamba Community College at Bonner Arnold Coliseum as the Lady Tigers came back from a halftime deficit with a 50-point second half to pull off the upset 84-67.
Sophomore Alicia Hudson (Charleston) was selected to the MACJC All-State North Division team and also participated with teammate Rumae Butler (Belmont) in the 2010 MACJC All-Star basketball game.
Coach Jody Long’s softball team got off to a slow start this past season but was able to collect some wins in the second half of the season to close out the year on a positive note. The Lady Tigers just missed the post season by falling in to the fifth spot in the final MACJC North Division standings which was the first time that has happened since making the switch to fast-pitch in 2001.
During the 2009-10 season, Northeast’s cheerleading squad wrapped up its final year as a co-ed squad when officials announced that beginning in 2010-11 the squad would be comprised of eight female student-athletes.