The East Central Community College men's and women's basketball teams were among 10 squads that participated in the annual EC Basketball Classic Nov. 25-26 in Brackeen-Wood Gym on the ECCC campus in Decatur.
On the opening day, the East Central men defeated Blessed IJN Prep Academy of Jackson 108-71. The Warriors were led by 23 points from freshman guard Tate Ryder (Hattiesburg, Oak Grove). Freshman guard Kareem Thompson (Florence) added 20, while sophomore forward JaQuarius Smith (Noxubee County) had 15 and freshman guard Darien Newchurch (Jackson, Terry) chipped in 13. Freshman center Robert Finklea (Biloxi) led the team with nine rebounds.
On day two, East Central passed the century mark again in a 136-54 win over Faith Prep Academy out of West Memphis, Ark. East Central hit 23 of 38 three point shots for 61 percent.
Eight Warriors scored in double figures led by Newchurch's 20 points and five assists. Freshman guard Landyn Shows (Petal) scored 19, Thompson had 18, freshman guard Lee Cotton (Cleveland Central) had 13, sophomore guard Nick Preyer (Mobile, Ala., LeFlore) scored 11, and Smith, Ryder, and freshman guard Brandon Tilley (Hattiesburg, Oak Grove) each had 10 points. Preyer and Ryder each had six assists. Freshman forward William Thompson (Tupelo, Shannon) led East Central with 12 rebounds.
The Warriors are now 4-2 on the season.
The East Central women lost their opener on Monday 77-73 to Louisiana State University Eunice. Leading the way for the Lady Warriors was sophomore guard Jariyah Covington (Starkville) with 21 points. Also in double figures was sophomore guard/forward KeiMoya Walker (Jackson, Murrah) with 16 and sophomore guard Mylisha Hammond (McComb) with 11.
On Tuesday, the Lady Warriors overcame a nine-point third period deficit to grab a 56-53 win over Coahoma. Covington again lead East Central with 15 points and was a perfect 5 for 5 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward Jamaica Almons (Jackson, Murrah) was the only other Lady Warrior in double figures with 11.
The Lady Warriors are 3-3 on the season.
Also participating on the men's side were Pearl River, Jones, and Bevill State (Ala.). The other women's team was Meridian.
The East Central teams are back in action Monday, Dec. 2, when they host Holmes. The women will play at 5:30 p.m. and the men at 7:30 p.m. in Brackeen-Wood Gym. East Mississippi will visit Decatur Thursday, Dec. 5, and those games are at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Freshman guard Tate Ryder shoots a jumper in the East Central win over Blessed IJN Prep. Ryder led the Warriors with 23 points. (EC Photo)