Booneville, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball program took several major steps forward during the 2016-17 season.
The Lady Tigers were an overtime loss to rival Itawamba Community College away from claiming a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division championship.
Northeast also returned to the postseason after a three-year drought and won their first game at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Tournament since 2006 to reach the semifinal round.
The Lady Tigers lost three of their top four scorers and only three players are back from that team period. Starters such as LaKeiya Lane and Shelby Wilbanks are now playing at Lane (Tenn.) College and Charleston Southern (S.C.) University, respectively.
However, what does return sets the stage for another promising year on the hardwood for Northeast and its head coach Brenda Mayes, who begins the third season in charge at her collegiate alma mater.
"The slogan for our team is we are one," she said. "All the talents that they bring to our program have to combine to make one. They've got to communicate as leaders and back each other up."
Aundrea Adams leads that trio as the top returning scorer for Northeast with 13.9 points. The Corinth native scored in double figures during 21 of 26 contests and posted nine double-doubles.
Tubbs is highly regarded for her body of work on the defensive side of the ball. The Biggersville High School graduate tied a career-high with 10 rebounds in wins during the previous campaign at Holmes Community College and Northwest Mississippi Community College.
Calhoun City's Tucker has the best three-point percentage among Northeast's returners. She averaged 6.1 points and had a personal best 16 points twice as a freshman in road victories over Blue Mountain College's junior varsity squad and East Central Community College.
Complimenting that stellar trio are 12 new faces that must make an immediate impact in order for the Lady Tigers to capture a second consecutive state and regional playoff appearance.
Adallice Young headlines that class as a former Dandy Dozen selection by The Clarion-Ledger out of Booneville High School. She was a first-team All-State honoree that earned a spot in the prestigious Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game at Alabama State University's Acadome.
Her and fellow Northeast signee Maria Lauderdale helped the Lady Devils capture the 2016 Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 3A state title. Lauderdale was a three-point specialist at the prep level and should serve in the same capacity with the Lady Tigers.
Dayzsha Rogan led nearby Ripley to the MHSAA Class 4A title matchup. She received first-team All-Area laurels from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the annual Northeast Mississippi Basketball Coaches Association (NEMBCA) All-Star Game with eight points, five boards, five assists and four steals.
Northeast added quite a bit of height to its roster with this recruiting class, including forward Cherelle Jones (6-0) of Middleton, Tenn., center Leah Shorty (5-11) from North Panola High School and forward Lanoria Abrams (5-9) of New Hope High School.
Adryana Bell is another award-winning athlete that will don the black-and-gold for the first time. She was the Starkville Daily News Player of the Year after guiding East Webster High School to the MHSAA Class 2A State Tournament as a senior by averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and four steals.
Chelsea Allen clinched a MHSAA Class 4A state championship during her final campaign at Lafayette County High School. She was an excellent ball handler for the Lady Commodores that had the third most assists on the squad.
Regan Britt of Walnut, Victoria Hale from Amory, Saltillo's Markeela Fisk and LaJayla Turnage of Baldwyn round out the signing class for Mayes and assistant coach Kunshinge Sorrell-Howard. All four competed at the NEMBCA All-Star Game following their respective senior seasons.
"I think this is probably one of the quickest groups that I've had," said Mayes. "Each one of them bring a specialty to the table. They're going to compete every day that they step onto the floor."
The Lady Tigers open with three straight contests at legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum beginning on Monday, November 6 when preseason No. 3 ranked Shelton State (Ala.) Community College visits the City of Hospitality.