Booneville, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball program picked up championship gold for the first time in over a decade during the 2017-18 campaign.
The Lady Tigers ended a drought of 11 seasons between major titles, which was their longest since a 34-year stretch between state championships from 1951-85, when they brought the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division crown back to the City of Hospitality.
It was the 17th divisional title in school history, which is nine more than Northeast's closest competitor in the MACJC North Division. The championship was also the first for Brenda Mayes, whose goal since taking over at her alma mater was to continue winning at a high level.
The expectations do not change for the Lady Tigers even though three starters such as Aundrea Adams, who is now at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and 11 players total are gone from the previous campaign.
Mayes and her assistant Kunshinge Sorrell-Howard, who are both members of the Northeast and MACJC Sports Halls of Fame, reloaded the Lady Tigers' roster with nine newcomers from across the Magnolia State.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how we stack up against the other opponents in our division," said Mayes. "I think we're going to be very competitive. Their overall attitude is great."
The Lady Tigers were outstanding in the post one year ago. Northeast finished seventh in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and second in the MACJC with 47 rebounds per game.
Jones should help the Lady Tigers excel in that department once again. The reigning MACJC All-State selection from Middleton, Tenn., nearly averaged a double-double during her inaugural campaign in the City of Hospitality with 10.4 points and a team-best 9.2 boards.
Lanoria Abrams is expected to take on an increased role for Northeast. The New Hope High School alumnus posted identical averages of 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench last season.
Tyriana Gilbert should bolster Northeast's effort in the paint with her 5-9 frame. She was part of the 2017 Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A state championship team at Olive Branch High School.
Itawamba Agricultural High School graduate Madeline Johnson serves as a third center for the Lady Tigers. Vicksburg's Da'Sha McGloster stands at 5-8 and will contribute to Northeast's rebounding endeavors as well.
McGloster and Dominique Caldwell were part of a Warren Central High School program that accumulated 78 wins during their four seasons at the varsity level. They reached the MHSAA Class 6A quarterfinal round together as seniors.
The remainder of Northeast's returners are all guards. Rogan, who received MACJC All-State honors last year, headlines that group after registering 10.1 points each contest as a freshman.
The Lady Tigers led the MACJC and were tied for fifth in the country with Shelton State (Ala.) Community College with 19.1 assists per game one season ago. Rogan was a big part of that success with an average of four dimes.
Baldwyn's LaJayla Turnage appeared in all 27 matchups for Northeast with seven starts and 3.6 points. Adryana Bell from East Webster High School was a 30.6 percent shooter during her initial year on the Booneville campus.
Haley Vick is another promising freshman for the Lady Tigers that can play both the guard and forward positions. She was tabbed as the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Class 1A Player of the Year after guiding Pine Grove High School to its second consecutive state title.
Ke'Mara Atterberry was on the McAdams High School team that Vick helped the Lady Panthers beat for a MHSAA Class 1A state championship last March in the historic Mississippi Coliseum.
Tekeria Newson from Independence and Naomi Page of Velma Jackson High School, who led their respective teams to the MHSAA State Tournament during their senior campaigns, plus North Panola High School's Quitonya Webster round out Northeast's talented roster.
"They bring speed, outside shooting and a physical presence on the inside," Mayes said. "I hope that these freshmen along with our returners are going to make for an exciting season."
The Lady Tigers open their schedule inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum for the second straight year on Tuesday, November 6 against Wallace State (Ala.) Community College at Hanceville. All home games this season are slated for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.