By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.
Top-seeded Pearl River Community College survived a furious upset bid by eighth-seeded Southern University-Shreveport, as a pair of free throws by Xavian Rimmer with 14 seconds left secured a 64-62 win Wednesday night in the Region 23 quarterfinals.
With the win, at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College, A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus, PRCC improved to 23-4 overall with the victory, while SU-S ended its season at 16-12. The Wildcats will now face fourth-seeded Northwest Mississippi in the semifinals today at 2:30.. NWCC ended fifth-seeded Jones County’s season with a 83-68 lopsided win in the quarter-finals.
"It was an ugly game. I didn't think it was very well played by either team. I don't want to complain too much because we won the game, we're going on to the second round, and that's what we're trying to do," PRCC head coach Richard Mathis said after the win.
Forward Kaven Bernard spurred The River’s win, as the freshman out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La., bombed Southern-Shreve with 26 points and 13 rebounds — both career and game-highs — including an impressive 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) effort at the foul line.
Pearl River got on the scoreboard before the clock even started, as Rimmer sank one of two free throws via a technical foul on SU-S after a Jag player slammed a dunk in pregame warm ups.
The teams exchanged leads several times in the first half, before Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High banged in a three in the final seconds to give the Wildcats a 34-32 advantage at the intermission.
The two teams battled to a 30-30 stalemate in the second half, which saw nine ties and seven lead exchanges.
Bernard hit a bucket with 2:38 left to put the Wildcats up 62-60 and after Francis missed two foul shots, Jeffrey Drew’s basket tied it up for the last time at 62-62. Rimmer’s two free throws with 14.6 seconds left, iced the win for Pearl River.
Besides Bernard, Rimmer, an Alcorn State transfer who prepped at Piney Woods School near Jackson, added 17 (eight rebounds) for Pearl River; while DeMondre Harvey of Minden (La.) High scored eight (seven rebounds).
The River will have its hands full against the Rangers in the semis.
The two squared off in the semi-finals of last week’s MACJC Tournament in Poplarville and saw host Pearl River trailing 41-24 at the break before the Wildcats bounced back with an equally-dominating 41-21 advantage in the second half to take a 65-62 victory.
The Region 23 champs advance to the NJCAA National Tournaments set for March 18-23 in Hutchinson, Kan.