ECCC women raise the bar on court &off
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
March 26, 2004
It's not often you get to spend a week with a group of living legends, but I had that opportunity last week while covering the NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship in Salina, Kan.
Having ventured to Kansas with the East Central Community College Lady Warriors, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Yes, I knew they were both state and Region 23 champions and that in itself is an impressive accomplishment.
Yes, I knew they had a team grade point average of 3.1, so I knew they weren't a bunch of dummies either.
I had seen nearly all of them play high school ball as well as this year, so I knew there were no head' cases on the journey.
But I also know I wasn't expecting what the Lady Warriors delivered. I'm not sure the Lady Warriors even know exactly what they did both at Salina and this year in general.
They won two games at the national tournament and a Region 23 representative hasn't done that in quite a while. For one thing, the MACJC members of Region 23 play with specific recruiting districts. The only way you'll get a player from another district is for that district to pass them over. And only three out-of-state players are allowed per team.
Compare that with 2004 national runner-up Gulf Coast Community College of Panama City, Fla., where none of the Lady Commodores came from the state of Florida.
Or 2004 national champion Trinity Valley Community College of Athens, Texas. Two members of the Lady Cardinals came from Texas. Two others were from Mississippi. Obviously, the two Mississippians had rather play in a big time program as opposed to their respective home jucos at Hinds and Holmes.
By going 31-4, the Lady Warriors set a high standard for all future ECCC women's teams to match or better. The margin of error is slim at best.
MACJC members can only play a 25-game schedule. Throw in a possible three games in the state tournament, three more in the region tournament, and four at the nationals and that only leaves 35 games. Yet this team won 31.
As the defending Region 23 champion, Hodge knows his squad will be the target of every opponent next season.
As is the case, life went on while the Lady Warriors were in Kansas and all wasn't good news.
Former Lake High School standout running back Sammie Holifield, 32, was buried on March 20 after being killed in a one-vehicle accident near Morton.
In 1988, he led the Lake Hornets to the Class 2A state championship and a 13-0 season. He had 2,099 yards that fall and scored the first and last touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Calhoun City in the state championship game.
Scott County lost another football legend with the passing of former Sebastopol coach N.C. Eiland.
Eiland, 66, died on March 19 at Rush Hospital. Services will be held Saturday at Concord M.B. Church in Forest at 11 a.m.
After graduating from Winston Country Training School in Louisville, Eiland went to Alcorn State University where he lettered four years in both football and baseball.
On Sept. 8, 2000, he was inducted into the ASU "A" Club Hall of Fame.
His coaching career began at Midway Vocational High School/North Scott Attendance Center and concluded following a 13-year stretch at Sebastopol High School.