Meridian Star

January 18, 2013

Breaking through

East Central men win first game, look for many more

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

DECATUR —     East Central Community College head coach Maurice Bowie knew his 0-13 Warriors would play better than they had all season Thursday night at home against Gulf Coast. However, not even Bowie would have predicted his Warriors to come out and beat the Bulldogs 91-81.

    “We got better in our last game at Hinds,” Bowie said. “We just came out and played the way we were supposed to play and got our first victory. Today we played a lot better. I knew we were going to play well, I just didn’t know it would be this good.”

    The Warriors started fast, and kept up their intensity all night, leading Gulf Coast for most of the game. Much of the Warriors success stemmed from their ability to control the ball, something that haunted the team in its previous 13 games. East Central only committed 12 turnovers on the night, while forcing Gulf Coast to 17.

    “That was big,” Bowie said. “We have had some problems with turnovers earlier in the season. We have a young guy, Chris Rhoney, he had been having some trouble transitioning into the college game. Now he is playing with a whole lot more confidence in the second half of the season.”

    The former West Lauderdale Knight, Rhoney was one of the league’s leaders in turnovers entering the game. Against Gulf Coast, Rhoney only turned the ball over three times, while scoring 20 points and recording seven rebounds.

    “I feel way more comfortable now,” Rhoney said. “Me and coach have been working out at like 5:00 a.m. in the morning, working on my game. He has been working with me and telling me not to play too hard and just be smart.”

    Rhoney was one of four Warriors in double figures on the night, joining Randy Collier (12 points), Bobby Wrench (16 points) and Aquil Baynard (22 points).

    While the first win is something for the Warriors to celebrate, Bowie urged his team not to expect anything less heading forward. Bowie said the Warriors will remain focused on making a playoff berth this season. East Central travels to Copiah-Lincoln on Tuesday.

    “We are going to enjoy this tonight, but tomorrow we are going to come in and work hard,” Rhoney said. “We can be great, I mean we can really be great. We can hang one of those banners on the ceiling.”

Mississippi Gulf Coast    81

East Central women    69

    Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College dominated most categories of the score sheet during its win against East Central on Thursday night in Decatur. However, the category most disappointing to Warrior coach Crandal Porter could not be found in any statistic.

    The difference, according to Porter, was Gulfport’s effort and hunger throughout the contest.

    “In the post, they just wanted it more,” Porter said. “They outrebounded us, they scrapped for loose balls, they posted up better, and they just wanted the ball more than we did. You have to give them a lot of credit tonight.”

    Gulf Coast center Brittany Jones led the way for the Bulldogs in the post, scoring 22 points on 11-of-20 shooting, while also collecting eight rebounds. Presley Owens and Markia Nix both recorded double-doubles for the Bulldogs, with Owens recording 15 points and 10 rebounds while Nix put up 14 points and 12 rebounds.  

    The Bulldogs outrebounded the Warriors 59-48 while also forcing East Central into 15 turnovers. The low-post dominance took away East Central’s inside game, forcing the Warriors to rely on low-percentage shots.

    The reliance on jumpers would come back to haunt East Central, as the Warriors finished the night 28.8 percent from the field on 21-of-73 shooting.

    After Xzandra Dowd got into early foul trouble, the Warriors almost exclusively turned to Jaianah Matthew for points.

    “I had no choice, all I could do is shoot and hope for the best,” Matthew said. “I tried everything I could to bring us back tonight.”

    The sophomore put up 47 shots including 23 3-point attempts en route to leading the Warriors in scoring with 22. Matthew shot a mere 27.6 percent from the field. However, with none of her teammates electing to take shots, she was forced to continue to put up shots.

    “We were intimidated from the inside and looked unsure from the outside,” Porter said. “Nobody but Matthew was taking shots, so it ended up with her taking a lot of them.”

    The loss moved East Central to 4-10 on the season. The Warriors travel to Copiah-Lincoln on Tuesday.

    “We are still in the hunt for a playoff berth,” Porter said. “Hopefully things will start to click and we will get more effort and execution. We will be fine.”