October 31, 2013 7:13:28 PM
FULTON -- This time, there was no tie to break.
After being the odd-man out three straight seasons in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges tie-breaker system, Itawamba Community College found itself on the right side of the coin this season.
By virtue of its win over Northeast Mississippi Community College, the Indians are back in the postseason for the first time since 2007. However, the first-round assignment is a tall one.
Itawamba (6-3) faces No. 4 Jones Junior College (8-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sim Cooley Field/Bobcat Stadium in Ellisville.
"This is a big accomplishment for the program," ICC fourth-year coach Jon Williams said. "We are working toward a position where this happens every year. It needs to be expectation, not an exception, to make the postseason.
Itawamba tied for second in the MACJC North Division in each of Williams' first three seasons as coach. Despite a 6-3 campaign last season, the Indians did not win the proper game and were left out on the tie-breaker. This season, ICC again finished 6-3 but a 4-2 division mark -- and the 36-33 come-from-behind win over Northeast -- proved enough to qualify.
The balance of the four-team playoff-field includes No. 2 East Mississippi Community and No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, who play in the other semifinal. The winners meet Nov. 9. Minus, Itawamba, the other three teams are a combined 25-2.
"That is the great thing about the playoffs," Williams said. "It does not matter what has happened in the past, because you are starting over. Obviously, there are four great teams in the playoffs. However, it works that way every year."
ICC won its first five regular-season games for the first time in program history. The Indians were rated as high as fourth nationally. Losses to Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Coahoma Community College followed. The Indians then regrouped to beat rival Northeast for a fourth straight season. before losing 59-13 at EMCC.
"We did some things well but certainly not enough things well to stay in the game," Williams said. "We have to play our best for hopefully two more games to have a chance to advance."
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Scott is sports copy editor and reporter