Booneville, Miss. - The long holiday hiatus is finally coming to an end for both of Northeast Mississippi Community College's tradition-rich basketball programs.
It ends a touch earlier for the Tigers as they welcome Arkansas State University Mid-South on Tuesday, January 8 in a matchup of two teams that are receiving votes in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings.
Tipoff between Northeast and the Greyhounds was moved up to 6:30 p.m. after the cancellation of the women's game. The Lady Tigers' first action of the New Year is now on Thursday, January 10 at rival Itawamba Community College.
"Everybody's just excited to get back," said Northeast headman Cord Wright. "We had a good first semester and now a good break. Everybody is healthy and feeling good. They came back in pretty good shape and working hard. The attitudes have been good."
The Tigers (10-1) averaged 91.5 points per game during their fall semester contests, including a season-high 121 points during a December victory over Mid South (Tenn.) Preparatory Academy.
Northeast also sits near the top of the national leaderboard in multiple statistical categories. The Tigers are 9th with 17.5 offensive rebounds per contest and 16th with 47.6 boards overall.
Corinth's Antares Gwyn paces Northeast's efforts in that department for a second straight campaign. He averages a team-best 9.4 boards after leading the entire Magnolia State in rebounding during his freshman season.
The Tigers also rank 14th in the NJCAA with 11.8 steals per outing and 23rd in assists with an average of 21.2. DeAnthony Tipler from Ashland and Starkville's Jordan Temple have been major reasons for the high level of productivity in those areas.
The duo of Temple and Tipler combine to average 8.4 assists and 4.1 steals. Tipler is also Northeast's leading scorer at the midway point of the campaign with 15.9 points each game.
Reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State selection Denzel McDuffey of Jackson follows Tipler closely with 15.3 points. The Tigers' only other double-digit scorer is North Panola High School alumnus Jamarcus Jones at 11.1 points.
The Lady Tigers had a very successful initial two months of the year as well, which included a December victory in Booneville over then-No. 4 and previously unbeaten Shelton State (Ala.) Community College.
"I was excited that they came back in better shape than I thought they would and they've really done well," Northeast head coach Brenda Mayes said. "I know they're excited about the second half of the season. They realize the fact that from now it's all conference games. Every game is important."
The Lady Tigers were extremely dominant on the glass in their initial 11 contests. Northeast is currently seventh in the NJCAA with 20.2 offensive rebounds and 9th with 48.6 overall boards.
Cherelle Jones from Middleton, Tenn., was dynamic in the post for the Lady Tigers (8-3) with an average of 12 rebounds per outing, which individually checks in as sixth best in the country.
Ripley native Dayzsha Rogan was very impressive to open her sophomore campaign. She topped Northeast with 16.9 points each game on team-highs percentages of 46.2 from the field overall and 70 at the charity stripe.
Jones is second on the squad with 14.9 points. New Hope High School graduate Lanoria Abrams and Tekeria Newson of Independence both barely fall under the double figure threshold with 9.5 and eight point averages, respectively.
Northeast also lands at 14th on the national leaderboard with 18.8 assists as a unit. Rogan leads the way for the Lady Tigers with 4.7 dimes while LaJayla Turnage from Baldwyn accounts for 3.5.
The Lady Tigers do not make their first appearance of the spring semester inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum until Tuesday, January 22 as part of a MACJC North Division doubleheader against Holmes Community College.