After coming up on the short end of a lot of close basketball games of late, the East Central Community College Warriors finally won a close one with a 77-72 victory over the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves Thursday, Feb. 7. The East Central Lady Warriors dropped their second straight game in the opener 70-60 to the Lady Wolves.
The MACJC South Division games were played in Grayson L. Mullen Gym in Wesson.
Eight of the Warriors' 10 losses this season have been by a combined 26 points, including a four-point 78-74 loss to Co-Lin back on Jan. 14 in Decatur. But East Central would not be denied in the rematch with Co-Lin. With the game tied 60-60 with five minutes to play, East Central took control down the stretch for the win.
The game was close until the final minutes, with nine lead changes. East Central's biggest lead of the night was the five-point final margin. The Warriors trailed 36-34 at the half.
East Central forward Marcus Bates was the difference in the game. The freshman from Paul Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., had a career night with 30 points and 13 rebounds. He was a near-perfect 11 of 12 shooting from the floor and hit all seven free throws he attempted. Fellow freshmen guard Nick Preyer (Mobile, Ala., Leflore) and forward JaQuarius Smith of Noxubee County also had strong games with 16 and 10 points, respectively. Preyer dished out five assists.
East Central shot 50 percent from the floor for the game, and outrebounded Co-Lin 36-23.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 9-10 overall and 2-8 in MACJC South Division play. Co-Lin fell to 10-9 and 3-7.
The ECCC Lady Warriors ended the two-game road swing this week with a pair of losses.
In a contest between two teams battling for a playoff spot in the MACJC South Division, the Co-Lin Lady Wolves rode a strong first half in the win. East Central fell behind by 11 at the half, 39-28, and was unable to make up the difference in the final two periods.
The Lady Warriors hit just 9 of 20 free throws in the game, while Co-Lin connected on 19 of its 24 free shots. The Lady Wolves also had 41 rebounds to 29 for East Central.
Freshman guard Jariyah Covington of Starkville continued to have the hot hand for the Lady Warriors, scoring 20 points. Sophomore forward Diamond Wraggs of Louisville had 12 points as the only other East Central player in double figures. Wraggs also had six rebounds
The ECCC Lady Warriors are now 14-5 overall on the season and 5-5 in the league. The Co-Lin Lady Wolves improved to 15-4 overall and 6-4 in the South Division.
The Warriors and Lady Warriors return home Monday, Feb. 11, to face Jones College at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It will be Be Our Guest night for high school students from Winston County who will be admitted free and qualify for door prizes. The 2019 Warrior baseball team will be introduced at halftime of the men's game at Brackeen-Wood Gym in Decatur.
East Central travels to Meridian on Thursday, Feb. 14, for games at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.