BOONEVILLE, Miss. - Add another milestone to the growing list of accomplishments for Northeast Mississippi Community College men's basketball coach Cord Wright.
Wright collected his 100th victory as headman of the Tigers with a 91-80 triumph over Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College on Thursday, November 7 inside Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
The Lafayette, La., native is in his seventh season at Northeast. He has guided the Tigers to five consecutive playoff appearances while averaging just under 20 wins per year in that span.
Wright has won a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 championship. He was selected as the 2016 NJCAA Region 23 and District 16 Coach of the Year.
He was also listed as one of the "hot junior college coaches" in the country by the Basketball Times prior to the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign. A total of 22 former Tigers have advanced to the four-year level after starring under Wright.
"Obviously it's all about the players," said Wright. "We've been fortunate to have some good guys. You could go down the list and thank them all. I'm just very thankful and blessed to be where I'm at."
Northeast approached the century mark in capturing its sixth consecutive season opening victory, which dates back to an 88-72 home triumph over Southwest Mississippi Community College on November 3, 2014.
The Tigers built double-digit leads in both halves only to see the Pioneers (1-2) chip away. Northeast never trailed after the break, but saw its advantage slashed to just 76-74 with 2:01 remaining following a 14-4 run by Volunteer State.
But the Tigers responded by scoring eight unanswered points of their own. Jalen Perkins and DeAnthony Tipler made back-to-back field goals to start the spurt and give Northeast some needed breathing room.
Northeast (1-0) sealed the win at the charity stripe in the final minute. The Tigers made nine out of their last 10 free throw attempts, including four off the hand of Jayven Humphrey.
"Honestly, we just hung in there," Wright said. "It wasn't the prettiest game by any stretch and we expected there to be some jitters. I'm so excited we won and I saw some positive things. We'll build on it and get better."
Tipler accounted for the first points of the campaign for Northeast with a three-pointer less than 30 seconds into the matchup. He reached double figures by the 15-minute mark of the opening half and eventually finished with a game-high 28 points.
"I tried to come out and get my team going," said Tipler. "It felt great to be back on the court in front of our fans. I think I did all right, but I've still got a little bit more to work on."
Three other Tigers joined Tipler in double figures, including Campbell (N.C.) University transfer Isaac Chatman. He came close to recording a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds.
"It was fun," Chatman said. "I started off slow and then we all got in a groove. This team can be very good once we completely gel and play together 100 percent. Being able to play with these guys, I love it."
Perkins poured in 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the floor and seven rebounds in his sophomore debut. Ladarrius Spears added 11 points, including the first slam dunk of the new year for Northeast on a one-handed jam that was assisted by Chatman.
The Tigers shot 41.5 percent overall from the floor and drained seven treys. Northeast held a plus-17 margin in rebounding and totaled 25 assists, including eight dimes from JonDarius Warren.
Northeast continues its season-best four-game homestand on Monday, November 11 by welcoming Faith (Ark.) Preparatory Academy. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the Booneville campus.