Booneville, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College basketball programs continued to raise the bar one year ago with semifinal appearances in both the state and regional tournaments.
The 2018-19 campaign looks just as promising for both the Lady Tigers and Tigers with a schedule that features 13 total home dates between the two teams and multiple challenges from non-conference foes and divisional opponents alike.
However, a majority of Northeast's home matchups will not happen until after Christmas. The Lady Tigers play just four games inside Bonner Arnold Coliseum prior to the lengthy holiday hiatus while the Tigers make only five appearances in the fall semester.
"Going on the road lets us know how they're going to compete when we go off for the playoffs," said Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes. "We're excited about it and we're looking forward to the competition on the road in preparation for our home contests."
Northeast does get to start the new season at its own venue with a doubleheader on Tuesday, November 6. The Lady Tigers battle Wallace State (Ala.) Community College at Hanceville while the Tigers take on Faith Preparatory Academy of West Memphis, Ark.
The reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division champion Lady Tigers then spend portions of the next three weeks away from the City of Hospitality before meeting Arkansas Baptist College on Tuesday, November 27.
Both of Northeast's tradition-rich teams have big plans for the first holiday break of the campaign with two-day tournaments at different locations across the Magnolia State.
The Lady Tigers participate in the Northwest Tri-States Classic from November 15-16. Northeast takes on Mineral Area (Mo.) College and Snead State (Ala.) Community College at Howard Coliseum in Senatobia.
Northeast's men travel 300-plus miles south from November 19-20 to take part in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Thanksgiving Classic. The Tigers have two key regional contests in this event versus Baton Rouge (La.) Community College and Southern (La.) University at Shreveport.
"This is a great opportunity for our guys to challenge themselves," said Tigers head coach Cord Wright. "In order for us to get better, we want to go on the road and we want to put ourselves in tough environments against teams that traditionally have won."
Northeast begins the MACJC North Division portion of its agenda for the third consecutive year on the road against Coahoma Community College on Monday, December 3.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers end the opening semester by welcoming three opponents from the neighboring Yellowhammer State, including Shelton State (Ala.) Community College, Gulf Coast (Ala.) Preparatory Sports Academy and Lawson State (Ala.) Community College, from December 10-13.
MACJC North Division action ramps up in earnest following the Christmas recess on Thursday, January 10 when Northeast makes the short trek to rival Itawamba Community College.
Other keynote dates on the calendar include when defending men's region champion Holmes Community College visits on Tuesday, January 22 and Itawamba's return trip to the Booneville campus on Monday, February 4.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers will recognize the accomplishments of their respective sophomore classes on Thursday, February 21 before the regular season finale versus East Mississippi Community College.
"I really like our schedule," Wright said. "The (MACJC) speaks for itself. Everybody in our league has gotten better to some degree. This year could come down to whoever lasts the longest because it's going to be a grind every night."
The South Division women's champion receives the hosting role for the MACJC State Tournament while the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Tournament returns to Mississippi College's A.E. Wood Coliseum.
The Lady Tigers and Tigers boast a combined 61 championships, including one national, 11 regional, 16 state and 33 division crowns, and 26 NJCAA All-Americans during their illustrious history.