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Lady Rangers to host Meridian in first round of Region 23 tournament

Photo: Coach LaTaryl Williams and the Northwest Lady Rangers will host Meridian on Saturday in the first round of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament. (Credit: Kevin Pitts/nwccrangers.com)

First postseason appearance in coach LaTaryl Williams’ tenure

After missing out on the postseason last year, the Northwest women’s basketball program has officially locked up a return to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament.

Northwest (15-10, 7-7 MACCC) enters the tournament as a No. 6 seed, hosting 11th-seed Meridian on Saturday, March 9 at 3 p.m. The winner of Saturday’s matchup will advance to face Southwest Mississippi in the quarterfinal round. That game is scheduled for Monday, March 11 in Summit, with a tipoff time yet to be announced.

Should the Lady Rangers advance further, the semifinal and championship rounds will be held at Mississippi College in Clinton on March 14-15.

In just his second season at the helm, coach LaTaryl Williams has guided Northwest to the postseason, while spurring a turnaround from last season’s 7-16 overall record to the Lady Rangers’ 15-win total this season. With a win on Saturday, Northwest will surpass its win total from two seasons ago and reach the 16-win threshold for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.

This is the Lady Rangers fourth appearance in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in the last five seasons.

Meridian (11-15, 7-7 MACCC) enters Saturday’s matchup after finishing the season with a 2-2 mark down the stretch. One of those two victories included a win against Northwest on Sophomore Night last Thursday, when the Lady Eagles pulled out a narrow 65-61 victory.

Northwest is led in scoring by the combo of freshman Mariah Reed-Jones and sophomore Kae’la Mitchell. Reed-Jones is averaging 11.4 points per game, while Mitchell is averaging 11.0 points per game, spending the first part of the season as a primary reserve.

Jacia Hayes and Marian Jenkins lead the Lady Rangers in rebounds, averaging 6.8 and 5.8 rebounds per game, respectively. Freshman Mikayla Abram is the team’s undisputed leader in blocks, totaling 60 throughout the regular season, good for the most in the MACCC and ninth in the NJCAA. Her 2.5 blocks per game average is also tied for sixth in the NJCAA among Division I athletes.

Meridian is led by Amari Davis, who is averaging 17.3 points per game, and Eboni Alford, who is averaging 9.0 points per game. Davis led the Lady Eagles with 20 points in their win last week against Northwest.

Jamesha Jones leads the Lady Eagles in averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, with Davis not far behind at 6.2 per game.

Saturday’s contest can be seen live on Ranger TV only. However, due to overlapping athletic events, no play-by-play is expected to be provided.

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