BOONEVILLE, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball team must replace its top three scorers from the 2018-19 campaign.
Eight sophomores are back to be exact from last year's squad that finished second in the MACJC North Division and reached the postseason at both the state and regional levels for the third consecutive campaign.
"We're looking for those eight to lead and they all lead in different ways," said Mayes. "So we're hoping that connection just goes together. We're expecting a lot of big things from them."
Tekeria Newson is Northeast's leading returning scorer and rebounder. The Independence native averaged 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds while primarily coming off the bench for the Lady Tigers.
Warren Central High School graduate Dominique Caldwell is the only player to start in more than one game as a freshman. She dished out 1.7 assists per game, which is the most among Northeast's sophomores.
Fellow Vicksburg product Da'Sha McGloster joins Newson as the only returners to appear in all 24 contests last season. McGloster totaled 18 blocks one year ago, which was third best on the team.
Pine Grove High School's Haley Vick is expected to bolster the Lady Tigers' efforts from beyond the arc. Ke'Mara Atterberry from McAdams and Quitonya Webster of North Panola High School give Northeast depth at the guard position.
Northeast's freshman class is small in comparison to its group of sophomores. However, these five newcomers are all expected to make an immediate impact for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Tigers were sensational on the boards one season ago. Northeast ranked seventh in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and led the MACJC with 49.3 rebounds per game.
Two frosh out-of-staters in Chancey Jackson of Memphis, Tenn., and A'Jae Nathan from Montgomery, Ala., must step up if the Lady Tigers want to finish among the top 10 rebounding teams in the country for a fourth straight year.
Nathan and Jackson are the two tallest athletes on Northeast's roster at 6-0 and 5-10, respectively. Nathan is listed as one of four centers for the Lady Tigers while Jackson, who averaged 14.4 points per outing as a senior, stars at forward.
Cathy Burse helped Terry High School reach the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A championship game last March inside the historic Mississippi Coliseum.
Keyara McCline had a phenomenal prep career at Amanda Elzy High School that included four playoff appearances in a row plus a trip to the MHSAA Class 3A title contest in 2017.
India Prather is the lone rookie from inside Northeast's traditional five-county district. She participated in the annual Northeast Mississippi Basketball Coaches Association (NEMBCA) All-Star Game after earning All-Tippah County honors at Falkner.
"They're excited about taking the court," Mayes said. "We want to focus on being consistent in the way we run our plays and setup our defenses to attack their offense. I think we're going to be just fine."
The Lady Tigers open the 2019-20 campaign by welcoming Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College on Thursday, November 7. All home games this season are scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum.