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October 26, 2012

Lions open No. 8 in preseason basketball rankings

SCOOBA —     Riding streaks of three consecutive NJCAA Tournament appearances and three straight MACJC North Division titles, head coach Mark White’s East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball team is ranked eighth nationally in the NJCAA Top 25 poll released Thursday.

    Entering his sixth season at the EMCC men’s basketball helm, White has guided the Lions to three-year composite records of 75-18 (.806) overall and 33-3 (.917) in division play spanning back to the 2009-10 hoops season. A year ago, East Mississippi finished 23-6 overall and 11-1 within the division after dropping single-digit decisions in the NJCAA Tournament to eventual national champion South Plains (Texas) College and eventual consolation bracket winner Indian Hills CC-Ottumwa. EMCC advanced to the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kan., for the third straight year last March after winning the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in Clinton for the third consecutive season.

    Having garnered Top 15 NJCAA rankings in the final men’s basketball poll each of the last three years, this season marks the second straight year that the East Mississippi men have been ranked in the preseason NJCAA Top 10. A season ago, the EMCC Lions tipped off the 2011-12 campaign ranked seventh nationally in the preseason poll.

    With reigning NJCAA national champion South Plains College holding down the No. 1 preseason spot in the 2012-13 NJCAA Top 25, the remaining Top 5 preseason teams include Northwest Florida State College at No. 2, third-ranked Howard College, Chipola College at No. 4 and Indian Hills-Ottumwa at the fifth spot. The rest of the NJCAA Preseason Top 10 features Vincennes at No. 6, followed by the College of Southern Idaho and EMCC at seventh and eighth, respectively, No. 9 Seward County and Navarro College at No. 10. At No. 22 nationally, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is the only other MACJC member school listed in the NJCAA preseason men’s basketball poll.

     The Lions, along with head coach Sharon Thompson’s women’s squad, will give sneak peeks at their 2012-13 teams during Monday’s “Late Night with the Lions” event on the Scooba campus. Set for a 9 p.m. start at EMCC’s Keyes T. Currie Coliseum, the hoops preview event will consist of team intros, a dunk contest, 3-point shootouts and intra-squad scrimmages by both EMCC teams.

     The East Mississippi basketball teams will officially tip off the 2012-13 regular season by playing host to Georgia Highlands College on Nov. 1 on the Scooba campus. EMCC then entertains Meridian Community College a week later on Nov. 8. Both upcoming home basketball doubleheaders are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. with women’s action followed by 7:30 p.m. men’s contests.

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