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ECCC men, women to open hoops season

By Staff
From school reports
Oct. 30, 2003
DECATUR Basketball season tips-off Saturday for the East Central Community College Lady Warriors and Warriors who face squads from Itawamba Community College at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., respectively, in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building.
The Lady Warriors, led by third-year head coach Brad Hodge, feature four starters among the eight returnees from last year's 15-11 squad, which landed berths in the MACJC and Region 23 tournaments.
Rita Birden, a 5-foot-10 guard from St. Fredrick High School in Monroe, La., is the top returning scorer with 12 points per game. Other top point makers are 6-foot guard/forward Kimyatta Viverette of Lake and 6-foot-1 forward Lenore Gray of Newton, who each averaged nine points per contest,.
Hodge said his sophomores are the key to success.
Hodge said his freshmen will also be called on to contribute early.
Hodge said goals for this year's team are the same as in the past.
position to possibly win the tournaments. Ultimately, we would like to qualify for the national tournament in Salina, Kan. However, with the quality of teams in our league and division, it is unfortunate that only one team gets to participate. But, that is basketball the team that plays well at the right time and gets a few breaks, comes out alive."
Coach Billy Smith is also in his third year leading the Warriors, who last year advanced to the state and region tournaments for the first time in eight years en route to a 15-12 record. Smith feels this year's team will be "hard-pressed" to repeat the success of 2003, mainly because of a lack of experience.
He has only two returnees from last year's squad who saw a lot of playing time Desmond Jones, a 6-foot-2 forward from Neshoba Central, and Dewayne Hughes, a 5-foot-9 guard from Sebastopol.
Other returnees are guards Al Willis of Newton County, and Stephen Dyess and Jamaal Martin, both of Northeast Lauderdale. Other sophomores are guard Tellas Burnside of Philadelphia and forward Tobios Darden of Lafayette, Ala.
Freshmen are forwards Neil Tadlock of Lake, Gerrick Nichols of Thomastown, Lorenzo White of Quitman, Ryan Hudson of Louisville, and guards Andrew Lewis of Morton and Shaun Daugherty of Choctaw Central.
For the Warriors to succeed, Smith said his team needs to be more aggressive on both ends of the court.
He said the freshmen will also play a major role in his team's success.
Regarding preparations for the season opener, Smith said, "Our team has been practicing hard and they should be ready to start playing against someone other than ourselves. We will get a taste of how good we can be right out of the gate as Itawamba and Delta are two good teams coming in here early."