EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series that highlights some of the great moments and individual plays from the 2020-21 athletic season at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Accompanying video of the top five moments is available on Northeast's official YouTube channel (search for Northeast Tigers).
BOONEVILLE, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College athletic department continued to thrive despite challenges associated with the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Northeast captured a pair of Mississippi Association of Community College Conference (MACCC) championships and made postseason appearances in four sports during the 2020-21 academic year.
All that success came despite limited fan attendance during basketball and football seasons plus a reduced amount of contests for all teams with the exception of golf.
The following are five of the top moments from Northeast’s seven intercollegiate athletic programs during its 72nd year of competition inside the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
#1 Golf Secures First-Ever State Championship
Northeast revived its golf program during the 2019-20 school year with the end goal of winning championships. It took the Tigers just two seasons under head coach Derek DeVaughn to achieve that objective.
Jake Kilcrease (Brantley, Ala.) shot a 2-over-par 146 to help Northeast overcome a one-shot deficit after the opening round and win its inaugural MACCC title. The Tigers were four strokes better than runner-up Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Tate Dickerson (Booneville) and Carson Wilder (Corinth) joined Kilcrease on the all-tournament team. Kilcrease tied for second while Dickerson and Wilder shared fourth place with identical two-day scores of 148.
#2 Men’s Basketball Repeats as North Division Champs; Wins MACCC Title
Multiple obstacles such as two separate two week layoffs from competition for various reasons did not stop Northeast from adding more hardware to its already packed trophy case. The Tigers won the MACCC North Division and were co-state champs along with Pearl River Community College.
Northeast secured its 18th division title overall and repeated as north half champions for the first time since 1994-95. It was also the seventh MACCC crown in program history and the first in over two decades.
The Tigers wrapped up both championships with an 83-72 victory over Coahoma Community College inside legendary Bonner Arnold Coliseum. Jalin Rice (Madison) had a career-high 22 points plus nine assists to guide Northeast.
#3 Clark Hits Three Home Runs in Single Game
Caroline Clark (Tuscumbia, Ala.) completed her inaugural campaign at Northeast in a tie for the most home runs on the team with seven. However, a majority of that power production came in one sensational game.
Clark hit three homers in a 9-2 triumph versus East Mississippi Community College during the nightcap of a doubleheader sweep by the Tigers. Her first long ball sailed over the centerfield wall in the opening frame to give Northeast an early lead.
She went to the opposite field with her next two dingers. Clark connected on her second two-run shot of the contest in the fifth and an inning later snuck one last home run just inside the foul pole down the right field line.
#4 Blackmon’s 34-Point Effort Sends Tigers to Clinton Once Again
Kylan Blackmon (Oxford) made sure that Northeast returned to the neutral site portion of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum for the seventh consecutive season.
Blackmon recorded a career-best 34 points to lift the Tigers to a 98-82 home victory against Delgado (La.) Community College in the region quarterfinals. He was 11 of 18 from the floor, including four three-pointers, and 8 of 10 from the free throw line.
It was the most points in a playoff game by any Northeast standout since Shaq Buchanan, who is now starring for the Memphis Hustle in the National Basketball Association (NBA) G League, matched Blackmon’s total in 2017.
#5 Davis Named NJCAA Baseball Player of the Week
Conner Davis (Booneville) was awarded after a red-hot start to his second year at Northeast with NJCAA Division II Player of the Week honors. He became the first athlete in program history to receive this prestigious recognition.
Davis went 10 for 17 with four runs scored, four RBIs, four stolen bases, two doubles and a triple during a stretch of four games in two days from February 9-10 versus rival Itawamba Community College and East Mississippi.
He was particularly good against the Indians with seven hits over the course of the road twinbill. Davis drove in the winning run in the finale with an infield single to the shortstop that brought home Bryce Stanton (Louisville) in the fifth inning.