The Northeast Mississippi Community College women’s basketball program is in a completely opposite situation than it was exactly one year ago.
The Lady Tigers benefitted from having eight sophomores on its 2019-20 roster. However, this season Northeast has only one returning player to lean upon for experience and leadership.
Cathy Burse has the distinction of being the lone Lady Tiger that was part of the lineup during the previous campaign. Ripley’s Moe Daniel, who did not suit up for Northeast last year, is the only other sophomore on the team.
Burse averaged 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. She produced a near double-double during the Lady Tigers’ home victory over Mississippi Delta Community College with 10 points and eight rebounds.
“She can use her size to get some easy baskets. We’re looking for continued improvement in that,” said Northeast head coach Brenda Mayes. “She runs the floor pretty well for her size and she makes some strong post moves.”
Nine true freshmen from all across the northern half of the Magnolia State are expected to immediately contribute for the Lady Tigers. That includes four players that hail from towns inside Northeast’s traditional five-county district.
Sanaa Finley won a pair of Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 2A championships while at Ingomar High School. She was an All-State Honorable Mention selection by Mississippi Gridiron following her senior campaign.
Brittney Oswalt was Wheeler High School’s leading scorer for three consecutive seasons. She posted a career-best 15.7 points as a junior and accumulated 1,180 total points at the prep level.
Karlie Rogers helped Pine Grove High School become just the fourth team ever to win four straight state titles in a row. She was tabbed as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2020 MHSAA Class 1A championship tilt with season-bests of 22 points and 18 boards.
Faith Williamson was chosen to the All-State second-team by Mississippi Gridiron after her final year at Kossuth High School. She was a starter on the Lady Aggies’ 2019 MHSAA Class 3A title squad.
Nitirah Barry lifted Columbus High School to the MHSAA Class 5A crown during her senior campaign. Cherica Cheairs closed her tenure at Ashland High School with all-division recognition.
Calysia Phillips was the 2020 Clarksdale Press Register All-Area co-MVP. She averaged 13 points and five assists per contest for Coahoma County High School in its run to the MHSAA Class 2A championship matchup.
Dekenzie Sharp was an outstanding point guard for Tupelo High School. Shandrea Watson rounds out the list of newcomers for the Lady Tigers after a standout career at Independence High School.
“I did have some concerns on how we would make adjustments and I think playing those (fall exhibitions) was a plus for us,” Mayes said. “We did see a lot of good things in those games that we can use to move forward.”
The 2021 campaign will feature several alterations due to the continuing pandemic, including a mirror scheduling format for division play, a reduction in the number of games during the regular season and changes to the playoffs.
Northeast goes on the road to begin its new year to battle Holmes Community College on Thursday, January 21. The home opener for the Lady Tigers is set for Monday, January 25 versus Mississippi Delta Community College.