After winning five straight games just to get into the 2019 MACJC State Basketball Tournament, the East Central Community College Warriors ran out of steam in the first round dropping a 70-53 decision the North Division No. 1 Seeded East Mississippi Lions Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Ellisville.
This year's tournament is being played at A.B. Howard Gymnasium on the Jones College campus.
East Central entered the tournament as the No. 4 Seed in the South Division and had already defeated East Mississippi twice during the regular season, including 73-66 on Nov. 8 in Decatur and 58-57 on Jan. 8 in Scooba.
But the Lions broke open a close game at the half and pulled away at the end for the 17-point win. The Warriors led only once in the ballgame at 26-25 with five minutes to play in the first half. East Mississippi took a 36-32 lead at intermission.
East Central tied the score at 38-38 with about 16 minutes to play, before the Lions started to pull away. A jumper by sophomore guard Roti Ware pulled East Central to within two at 50-48 with 7:46 to play before East Mississippi went on a 20-5 run to close out the game.
The game was won at the free throw line, where East Mississippi hit 25 of 33 attempts, while East Central was just 3 of 5. The Warriors were whistled for 26 fouls to just 10 for the EMCC Lions.
Ware of Morton lead East Central with 18 points. Freshman forward Marcus Bates (Tuscaloosa, Ala., Paul Bryant) added 11 points and pulled down six rebounds. Freshman guard Nick Preyer (Mobile, Ala., LeFlore) had seven assists.
Darrious Agnew of Starkville led EMCC with 21 points, while Terryonte Thomas of Columbus added 17 points and nine rebounds.
The East Central men will be the No. 8 seed in the 2019 National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 Tournament to be played March 5-9 at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton. The East Central women, who failed to qualify for the MACJC State Tournament, will be the No. 6 seed. Brackets will be announced Friday, March 1.