February 23, 2010 9:09:00 AM
The East Mississippi Community College women''s basketball team can accomplish a feat tonight that no other team has realized this season when it takes the court in the MACJC state tournament.
The Lady Lions can be the first team to beat Copiah-Lincoln Community College when the teams tip off against each other at 7:30 tonight in Scooba.
EMCC (14-11) stands in the way of Co-Lin (23-0) continuing its quest for an undefeated season.
"It''s been my philosophy, and it''s just not with Co-Lin, I don''t worry about the other team," EMCC coach Sharon Thompson said. "I think they''re 23-0. I don''t care if they''re 23-0 or if they''re 0-23. I worry about my kids showing up. If we show up we can play with anybody."
Co-Lin is the top-seeded team from the MACJC South Division after going 12-0 in the league.
Thompson expects the Lady Wolves to be hungry after losing to Jones Community College in the state tournament championship game and to EMCC in the Region 23 Tournament championship game last year.
An EMCC player who believes the Lady Lions can pull the upset is sophomore guard Eryn Gray, a 2008 graduate of Columbus High School.
"We have to play together as a team and go by coach''s plan in order to beat undefeated Co-Lin," Gray said. "I feel we have a good chance of winning if we go by the plan.
"We have a great coach. She knows what she''s talking about. All we have to do is do what she says and play together as a team and run the floor and keep Co-Lin under 60 points, and that''s basically it."
For the season, EMCC is allowing just 59.1 points per game.
The Lady Lions won their final three games of the regular season against Mississippi Delta Community College (68-58), Holmes Community College (74-62), and Northeast Mississippi Community College (60-50).
Gray has played some of her best basketball of the season down the stretch. Prior to the winning streak, she scored a season-high 21 points in a loss to Wallace State Community College. She scored eight points against Mississippi Delta and 13 against Holmes.
"I feel like I''ve been playing a lot better," Gray said. "I''ve been shooting the ball a lot better than I used to. I''m driving to the goal a lot more. I''ve been interacting with my teammates better. Whey they play better, I play better."
For the season, Gray is averaging 4.9 points and 1.7 rebounds. She also has 23 assists, and has made 22 of 68 3-pointers (32 percent). She is second on the team in 3-pointers on the team and leads the squad in 3-point shooting percentage.
"She''s been knocking down some big threes," Thompson said. "She has a tendency to rush her shot, but of late she''s been more patient on her shot. When she''s patient with her shot, she''ll knock it down."
Gray hopes to find the range from long distance tonight and help the Lady Lions pull off the upset against Co-Lin.
Today''s action begins at noon with No. 2 South seed Jones County against No. 3 North seed Mississippi Delta, followed by the North Division champions from Northwest Mississippi versus No. 4 South seed East Central at 2 p.m. The evening session in the women''s bracket will pit No. 2 North seed Itawamba against No. 3 South seed Southwest Mississippi at 5:30 p.m., prior to the 7:30 p.m. rematch of last year''s NJCAA Region 23 championship game between EMCC and Co-Lin.