ECCC wins crown
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Feb. 27, 2004
BOONEVILLE Less than 10 minutes removed from East Central Community College's first state championship in 25 years, all Brad Hodge could think about was an automobile advertisement.
East Central led by double digits for most of the game but had to weather a handful of threatening runs from the Lady Bobcats, who fell to 14-13 for the season. The Lady Warriors lost the ball just 13 times.
The Lady Warriors led 66-52 with 5:40 left in the game when Kimyatta Viverette dropped in a layup after coming away with one of her team's 15 steals.
It was East Central's last field goal for nearly five minutes. Jones mounted the last of its runs, outscoring the Lady Warriors 12-3 to come within five points with 1:16 remaining.
But Kristin Chaney breathed life back into East Central when the team needed it most. With 49 seconds left in the game and just four seconds on the shot clock, Chaney drove inside and drained a critical off-balance one-handed layup and drew Brittany Baham's fifth foul.
The infraction sent Baham, the Lady Bobcats' most dangerous post player, out of the game. Chaney's free throw gave the Lady Warriors a 72-64 lead and snuffed Jones' comeback hopes.
Chaney, who finished with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, was one of three Lady Warriors in double figures. Lenore Gray led East Central with 22 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor, and Kotreece Bender had 14 points.
Baham and Natalie Jordan shared game-high honors with 23 points apiece for Jones.
East Central, now 26-2 on the season, enjoyed about five more hours of rest than Jones after Wednesday's semifinals games. The Lady Warriors finished playing Wednesday at 2:45 p.m., while the Lady Bobcats had to wait until 6 p.m. to tip off.
After the game, Sumrall was reluctant to blame her team's woes on weariness.
East Central, ranked No. 17 in the country according to the latest NJCAA poll, led 35-30 at halftime but was up by as many as 16 during the first half. The Lady Warriors led 20-7 midway through the period, and a Lenore Gray put-back with 3:24 to go gave East Central a 32-16 advantage.
But the Lady Warriors mustered only one more first-half field goal, and Jones closed the gap with two three-pointers and two three-point plays. Brittany Martin's jumper from behind the arc with 20 seconds left brought the Lady Bobcats within five points East Central's smallest advantage since a 9-5 lead three minutes into the game.