PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast will play Holmes to tip off the opening round of the MACJC Tournament on Monday in Senatobia, and the Bulldogs will be extending an impressive streak.
Gulf Coast will be making its 20th straight appearance in the men's state championship tournament, dating back to 1999. To put it into perspective, Northeast Mississippi has the second longest streak. It reaches four this year.
"I'm a little bit surprised. I haven't even thought about anything like that," Gulf Coast coach Wendell Weathers said. "I think it speaks to the caliber of the program, the consistency of the program, to have qualified for our state tournament 20 years in a row. It speaks to the quality of our kids, to some degree it speaks to the caliber of our coaching staffs going all the way back to my father (Bob) when the streak started. I've been very lucky to keep it going."
MGCCC (16-7, 9-5 MACJC South) and Holmes (20-3, 10-2 MACJC North) will tip off on the floor of North men's champion Northwest at noon. The semifinals will take place Wednesday with the champion crowned Thursday.
Gulf Coast's tournament games can be watched online at http://nwccrangers.com/watch.
Gulf Coast finished third in the South, while Holmes was second in the North.
"At the end of the day in the state tournament, the seeding really doesn't matter," Weathers said. "You'd like to be the No. 1 seed, but you still have to win three games in a row. You just have to go play this time of year. Go do what you do and be the best team out there."
Holmes is led by Trevais Spencer, who averages 14.1 points per game. Mikkel Norment adds 10.1 points and Javon Franklin 10.0 points. Franklin leads the team in rebounding at 8.0 per game.
The battle on the boards figures to play a pivotal role in the outcome. Holmes outrebounds opponents by nearly six a game, while Gulf Coast is nearly 20 boards a game better and 12 in conference.
Dedoch Chan (Fr, Rochester, Minn./John Marshall), the reigning MACJC Player of the Week, leads Gulf Coast with 17.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In conference play, he's averaging 19.6 points and has scored 20-plus points in eight of the last nine.
Two other Gulf Coast players average double-digits. LaRaymond Spivery (Fr, Lucedale/George County) scores 14.6 points per game and leads the team with 5.2 assists. Abdul Dial (So, West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) is averaging 10.8 points per game, and he's hitting 40.0 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Gulf Coast has won seven of its last nine, while Holmes has won nine of 10.
"I think our guys are playing real well," Weathers said. "They're playing with confidence and believing in what we're doing. I think now the regular season is over with and there's a championship to play for, I don't know whether we'll win but I think we'll be ready to play."
First round, Monday
Game 1: South No. 3 Gulf Coast vs. North No. 2 Holmes, noon
Game 2: North No. 4 East Mississippi vs. South No. 1 Pearl River, 2 p.m.
Game 3: North No. 3 Northeast vs. South No. 2 Copiah-Lincoln, 5 p.m.
Game 4: South No. 4 Southwest vs. North No. 1 Northwest, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 7 p.m.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.