Tallahassee, Fla. – Shelby Wilbanks continued her memorable sophomore campaign for the Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball team during its trip to the Florida panhandle.
Wilbanks recorded two double-doubles to lead the Lady Tigers during their pair of games in the Tallahassee Democrat Holiday Classic inside the Bill Hebrock Eagledome.
She accumulated game-highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds in Northeast's tournament opener against Northwest Florida State College. Wilbanks then tallied 10 points plus 12 boards versus Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College one night later.
Wilbanks, who surpassed the illustrious 500-point plateau in the Lady Tigers' victory over defending state champion East Central Community College earlier in December, has now posted 15 double-doubles during her phenomenal tenure at Northeast.
"It makes me feel really good because I've been working during the break," said Wilbanks. "I just went back to the basics. To come back and have two good games really helps me out."
Northeast had strong second quarters and was within striking distance at halftime in each game. However, both of the Lady Tigers' opponents pulled away after the break in a 70-41 decision by the Lady Raiders and a 109-69 setback to the host squad.
Northwest Florida State, which appears at No. 14 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I poll, jump ahead by a 28-9 margin early in the opening game of the competition.
But Northeast scored 13 of the last 17 points in the second to cut its deficit to 32-22 at the intermission. Five different players contributed during that stretch, including Aundrea Adams and Tyra Tucker with four points apiece.
The Lady Tigers further slashed into the Lady Raiders' advantage in the initial two minutes of the third. Timaya Stewart drained a trey while LaKeiya Lane made the front end of a two shot violation to bring Northeast within two possessions at 32-26.
Jade Lewis quelled the Lady Tigers' hot streak with back-to-back three-pointers that increased Northwest Florida State's lead back to double-digits. Northeast could never recover from that instance.
The Lady Raiders (12-2) used a 10-2 run to advance their advantage to 52-32 by the conclusion of the third stanza. A separate spurt of eight unanswered points by to begin the fourth gave Northwest Florida State its largest lead of the afternoon.
Wilbanks was the lone double-figure scorer for the Lady Tigers against the Lady Raiders, but Tucker had a solid outing as well with eight points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Northeast went toe-to-toe with the 11th-ranked Lady Eagles during its final outing in the Sunshine State. There were three ties and three additional lead changes in the first 15 minutes of the contest.
The Lady Tigers (5-5) took their inaugural lead over Tallahassee at 6-4 following two straight buckets by Tucker and Wilbanks with 5:37 remaining in the opening period.
The Lady Eagles went on to take a 17-14 advantage into the second. Tallahassee expanded that lead to 27-20 when Lawriell Wilson made consecutive layups less than three minutes into the quarter.
But Northeast pieced together a 7-0 run of its own to bring the matchup into a stalemate. Joy Johnson had two clutch free throws right before Lane connected from long distance to even the score at 27-27.
Lane extended what turned into an impressive performance moments later. Her basket that was assisted by Stewart pushed the Lady Tigers ahead once again at 29-28 with 5:35 showing on the clock prior to halftime.
The Lady Eagles (15-1) were able to enter the locker room with a 51-41 edge over Northeast despite some solid play from Adams, Stewart and Tucker, who each had four points down the stretch.
A torrid pace after the recess favored Tallahassee, which shot 40 percent from the field and was 15 of 20 from the charity stripe in the second half alone. That allowed the Lady Eagles to register 58 points combined in the third and fourth quarters.
Lane was outstanding in the final two periods for the Lady Tigers. She notched 13 of her team-high 20 points in that span to finish her third 20-plus point performance of the campaign.
"I felt like after the first shot went in and as long as I held my follow through then I could knock any shot down," Lane said. "It was tough because they were good. We've got to take these games, push on and use this as motivation."
Stewart accounted for the second double-double of her sophomore year as well with 14 points and a season-best 11 rebounds. Adams went 7-of-11 from the floor and totaled 15 points.
"To be able to compete with them is a good thing," said Northeast head coach Brenda Mayes. "I don't think we've seen the pressure that we faced down here both days all year long and that's going to help us in the long run once we resume conference play."
The Lady Tigers finally return home after a season-long six-game road swing on Tuesday, January 10 against Arkansas State University Mid-South. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow inside Bonner Arnold Coliseum.