By Robby Atkinson
The Meridian Star
The most exciting time of year and the most pressure filled part of the season is upon the women’s basketball team at Meridian Community College. The Lady Eagles will open the 2014 Region 23 Tournament at Mississippi College in Clinton Wednesday afternoon and this year should be one of the more exciting tournaments in recent memory.
The Lady Eagles reached the semi-final round of the MACJC State Tournament last week and lost to Southwest Mississippi, but the stakes this week are much greater for all of the teams involved.
I have had the opportunity to watch many of these tournaments unfold at Mississippi College over the past several years and the 2014 edition is filled with many great teams on both sides on both sides of the bracket.
It is not hard to believe that five of the eight teams that are among the bracket this year are from the MACJC South Division which include: Meridian, Jones, Co-Lin, Southwest, and Pearl River.
It was also not a huge surprise to anyone that these same four teams reached the semi-final round of the State Tournament last week in Fulton. Jones eventually defeated Southwest Mississippi in the women’s championship game Thursday evening, while Itawamaba defeated East Mississippi in a very exciting men’s title game on the campus of Itawamba Community College.
The 2014 Region 23 Women’s Tournament is completely wide open and any of the eight teams in the field have the opportunity of holding the championship plaque this Saturday night.
The other three teams that complete the field for the Region 23 Tournament include: East Mississippi, LSU-Eunice, and Baton Rouge. The Lady Lions are the only team from the North Division of the MACJC that qualified for the tournament and the other two Louisiana schools qualified by finishing at the top of the Miss-Lou Conference.
MCC will open play in the tournament Wednesday afternoon against Baton Rouge Community College at 2 p.m. The two teams know each other very well having competed against each other when Meridian was a part of the Miss-Lou Conference in basketball.
The Lady Eagles will enter the tournament as the third seed from the MACJC, while Baton Rouge will be the number five seed from the region. MCC will have its hands full as BRCC comes into the tournament with a 21-6 overall record and it should be a very competitive game between the two schools.
It is so hard to pick a winner from this field of eight teams because all of the squads bring something different to the table that could prove to be successful at the tournament. Jones County Junior College will enter the field playing very good basketball after winning the State Tournament last week in Fulton and will square off with Co-Lin in the first round.
Co-Lin may be the team that most would not want to see in the tournament because the Lady Wolves won nine of its final ten games to complete the regular season.
Co-Lin didn’t qualify for the State Tournament due to a tiebreaker that knocked them out from competing in the field last week. Co-Lin was playing good basketball at the end of the regular season, but will the long break of nearly two weeks be a factor this week for the Lady Wolves?
The other two games are very intriguing at the bottom of the bracket and one of those games will feature a rematch.
East Mississippi and Southwest Mississippi will meet in a rematch from the opening round of the State Tournament last week that the Lady Bears won. The other game in the bracket will feature Pearl River and LSU-Eunice. PRCC will have its hands full as the Lady Bengals are 25-3 and have been ranked in the top 20 on several occasions throughout the season.
It is tough to call who wins this tournament at the end of the week, but this is a very deep field of teams this season. The place to be will definitely be at Mississippi College beginning Wednesday in what should be a great 2014 Region 23 Women’s Tournament.
Robby Atkinson is the Sports Information Director for Meridian Community College.