From Special Reports
The Picayune Item
Pearl River split with arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast in MACJC South Division men’s and women’s basketball action here Thursday with the 19th-ranked Wildcats taking a 65-53 victory, while the Lady Wildcats fell 45-41 despite an impressive second-half comeback run.
PRCC’s men improved to 17-2 overall and a division-leading 8-1 mark, while its women dropped to 5-11 and 3-6. MGCCC’s men dropped to 13-7 and 4-5, while its women are now 15-5 and 6-3.
With three division match ups remaining in the regular season, the Wildcats remain atop the South Division’s men’s standings — two games up on second-place Jones County (6-2). Southwest Mississippi is third at 6-3, while Gulf Coast is fourth at 4-5 following Thursday’s setback to The River.
PRCC’s men can clinch the division crown and hosting rights to Feb. 25-28's MACJC State Tournament with wins over SMCC Monday in Summit and JCJC Monday, Feb. 18, in Poplarville. The Wildcats dropped Southwest 71-62 at home and Jones 83-79 in Ellisville in previous meetings played Jan. 17 and Jan. 24, respectively.
PRCC’s women are in sixth place in the women’s standings behind No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln (8-1), Gulf Coast (6-3), Southwest (5-4), East Central (4-4), and Jones (3-5).
The top four finishers in the MACJC north and south divisions earn berths in the state tournament.
In the Thursday’s men’s game, Frank Snow, a San Angelina CC (Tex.) transfer from Wellington, Fla., hit the Wildcats’ first basket in the opening minute for the only Pearl River points for the first 4:30 of the contest. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast’s Jamichael Hawkins hit all four of his three pointers on the night during a 16-2 game-opening run to put the Bulldogs up by 14 with 15:30 left before the half.
But The River came alive, answering with a dominating 15-0 scoring surge — capped by a basket by Kaven Bernard out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La. — to take its first lead of the game at 17-16 at the 9:19 mark. The Bulldogs regained the lead briefly when Chris Bilbo scored off a steal, but Bernard answered with a bucket to make it 19-18 with 7:24 left before the break.
Gulf Coast’s ensuing 7-6 run tied it up at 25-25 at the 3:27 mark before PRCC responded with a 7-4 scoring effort to take a 32-29 lead at the intermission.
The Wildcats pumped their lead to 44-37 in the opening 10 minutes of the second half before Gulf Coast bounced back with a 9-0 run to grab its last lead of the game at 46-44 with 6:49 left. Daniel Grieves, a U.S. Air Force Academy transfer who prepped at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, immediately banged in a trey to put PRCC up for good. The Wildcats ended the game with a lopsided 21-7 scoring run to take the 12-point victory.
Hawkins led all scorers in the contest with 22 points (four treys), while Bilbo scored 17 (four rebounds, four assists, two steals).
Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High paced the Wildcats with 17 points (three treys, two steals), while Xavian Rimmer, an Alcorn State transfer who prepped at Piney Woods School near Jackson, scored 15 (three treys, four rebounds, three assists), Josh Carpenter of Oak Grove High 10 (three assists), Grieves nine (three assists), Bernard eight (five rebounds, two steals), Snow four (nine rebounds), and DeMondre Harvey of Minden (La.) High two (game-high 10 rebounds).
In the women’s game, things were tied twice in the opening four minutes before the Lady Bulldogs went on a 15-8 run to grab their first double-digit lead at 20-10. MGCCC built its lead to 27-12 — its largest of the first half — with 2:30 left before the break before the Lady Wildcats’ closed out the half with a 5-0 scoring surge to make it 27-17 at the intermission.
Gulf Coast’s 8-2 scoring run to open the second half gave the Lady Bulldogs their largest lead of the night at 35-19, but Pearl River rebounded with a 20-3 scoring surge to take one of its only two leads of the game at 39-38 with 3:35 left. During The River’s dominating run, Gulf Coast were scoreless for nearly nine minutes.
The Lady Bulldogs tied it up at 39-39 with a foul shot before PRCC took its final lead at 41-29 off a basket by Valescia Dixon of East Marion High at the 3:05 mark. Presley Owens’ basket then snapped a 41-41 stalemate with 2:00 left before she sank pair of free throws in the final seconds to ice the four-point victory.
Owens led MGCCC with a game-high 14 points (eight rebounds), while Shameika Hart scored 11 (nine rebounds, two steals), Markia Nix seven (game-high 16 rebounds).
Dixon paced The River with 12 points (13 rebounds), while Rebekah Harwell out of M.C. Perry High in Iwakuni, Japan, scored seven (four rebounds, four steals); Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson six (four steals), Jeronda Beason of Poplarville High five (four rebounds, three assists, three steals), Francheska Bowman out of Choctaw High in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., and Daiquari Raine of Poplarville High (five rebounds, two steals), four each; and Lolecia Richardson out of Provine High in Jackson three.
Gulf Coast dominated the boards with 55 rebounds (18 offensive, 37 defensive) to Pearl River’s 41 (11 offensive, 30 defensive), while The River committed 18 turnovers to MGCCC’s 22.
Pearl River split with Gulf Coast in previous meetings played Jan. 14 in Perkinston. PRCC’s women fell 65-44, while its men were 63-61 winners.
PRCC’s women and men return to action Monday when MACJC South Division foe Southwest Mississippi plays host in Summit for 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) games before the Wildcats host the William Carey University junior varsity squad Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. in Shivers Gymnasium