Senatobia, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College men's basketball program has pieced together two important streaks over the last several seasons. One of those is guaranteed to continue after the Tigers captured their fourth consecutive postseason berth.
The other is a two-year stretch of winning at least one major championship. Northeast has two more chances to achieve that once again starting with the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Tournament.
The Tigers will battle Copiah-Lincoln Community College in their first round matchup on Monday, February 26. Tipoff for the third of four contests on the opening day of the competition is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Northwest Mississippi Community College's Howard Coliseum.
Every Northeast game in the MACJC State Tournament will air live and in high definition on NEMCCTV. Tune in starting 15 minutes prior to tipoff for the pregame show by visiting www.nemcctv.com on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
The Northeast Broadcasting Network also includes new radio affiliate WOWL Fun 91. An audio simulcast of all playoff matchups for the Tigers can be heard on frequencies 91.9 FM from Burnsville, 92.9 FM from Florence, Ala., and 102.3 FM from Killen, Ala.
The Tigers are two years removed from claiming the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 crown and during the previous campaign was the MACJC North Division champion.
The lone title that Northeast has not captured during its current run is the MACJC state championship. But the Wolfpack, who like the Tigers are receiving votes in the latest NJCAA rankings, will be a tough first test.
"Whoever you play at this point in the year is going to be good," said Northeast head coach Cord Wright. "In the last week, we've shored up some things and got better in some areas. It's just one game at a time and the focus is on us."
Northeast ended the regular season with a stellar 17-6 overall record for a second straight season. The Tigers enter the state tournament as the number three seed from the MACJC North Division.
The Tigers are accumulating 84.1 points per game, which is the most since Wright took the reins of the program prior to the 2013-14 campaign. Northeast has gotten the job done with a much more balanced scoring lineup, especially when compared to the past couple of campaigns.
No Tiger is averaging more than 15 points per outing and only three are averaging double figures. However, there are seven Northeast standouts that are scoring more than seven points on any given night.
Clinton High School graduate Denzel McDuffey tops the Tigers with 14.7 points. Bryce Smith of Powder Springs, Ga., follows him with 11.6 points while local product Conner McKay from Baldwyn posts 10 points on the dot.
"We've got a lot of weapons and depth. That can help us during this stretch run," McKay said. "We've got a lot of confidence in each other. We've been playing well as of late. We went through a little skid there where we just weren't very good. But I think the last couple of games have us back on track."
Northeast leads the MACJC and is fourth in the country with 49 rebounds per game. Corinth's Antares Gwyn continues to guide the Tigers and remains at the top of the Magnolia State individually with 9.7 boards.
Finding the open man is also a strength for Northeast. The Tigers are tied for 12th nationally with over 20 assists each contest with Bryant Givens from South Bend, Ind., topping that effort with five dimes per night.
Co-Lin (19-4) finished in a stalemate for first in the MACJC South Division with Pearl River Community College, but fell to the second place position after winding up on the wrong side of tiebreaking scenarios.
Sophomore guard Jonathan Floyd paces the Wolfpack with 17.4 points per game and a 52.4 field goal percentage. Three other Co-Lin student-athletes average double-digits, including post player Youry White at 13.2 points.
White also grabs a team-best 9.1 rebounds for the Wolfpack, which is second most in the MACJC behind only the Tigers' Gwyn. Co-Lin pieces together similar numbers to Northeast with 82.2 points and 41.1 boards as a unit.
"It's important that we just kinda take care of the little things that we know we need to and let the chips play," said Wright. "I think this tournament is wide open. We're excited and know this is a great opportunity."
This is the first meeting in nearly a decade between the Tigers and Co-Lin. The most recent matchup between these two teams went in favor of Northeast by a score of 58-47 on December 12, 2009 in Wesson.
The winner between Northeast and the Wolfpack will face the victor of the Northwest versus Southwest Mississippi Community College contest in the semifinals on Wednesday, February 28. The men's championship game is slated for 7 p.m. one night later.