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East Central advances to title game after blowout victory

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
March 4, 2004
CLINTON So much for the dream game.
East Central Community College's Lady Warriors led by as many as 38 points in crushing sixth-ranked Northeast Mississippi Community College 92-67 Wednesday afternoon in the Region 23 Tournament at Mississippi College.
The Lady Warriors, 28-2, will take on Copiah-Lincoln Community College, 19-8, at 6 p.m. today for the region championship. The winner will advance to the NJCAA Women's National Tournament, March 16-20, at Salina, Kan.
The Lady Warriors, ranked 17th nationally, slapped Northeast around from the start as they scored the game's first 14 points. In the run, Lenore Gray scored at will in the lane and Kotreece Bender and Kristin Chaney each buried a 3-pointer.
The Lady Warriors led by as many as 19 points in the first half as they took a 45-26 lead into halftime.
Northeast's inside game was thought by many to be the Lady Tigers' strong suit, but ECCC's Gray and Kimyatta Viverette dominated the paint, especially in the first half. Gray finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals, while Viverette had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists.
Hodge said he never specifically challenged Gray and Viverette to step up with big games against Northeast.
Gray had 25 points in the first half and five other Lady Warriors hit at least one 3-point basket.
Leading 59-33 with 13:52 remaining, the Lady Warriors scored 23 of the next 36 points to go up 82-46 with 5:55 left. Hodge cleared his bench at that point and Northeast scored 21 of the final 31 points to leave with some measure of dignity.
The Lady Warriors also got 11 points from Kim Cox, 10 points from Bender, eight points, four assists, and three steals from Chaney, eight points and three assists from Rita Birden, and six points from Monique Overstreet.
Northeast, which finished 20-4 with three losses in its last four games, got 25 points from Marquetia Thomas, 15 from Ashley Jones, and nine from Brittany Wilson.
Co-Lin reached tonight's title game with a 69-53 win over Northwest Mississippi in Wednesday's early game.