Coach Mathis optimistic about Wildcats’ entering the second half of season

Published 7:55 pm Friday, January 5, 2007

PRCC split a pair of non-conference games with Mississippi Delta last night. The women’s team won 55-47 while the men’s team dropped their game 55-57.

Even with the loss Pearl River Community College men’s basketball coach Richard Mathis has high hopes for his Wildcats entering the second half of the 2006-2007 season.

“Things look pretty good right now,” Mathis said. “We open our (South) division schedule next week against two teams I think are the top two teams in our league (Copiah-Lincoln on Monday, Mississippi Gulf Coast on Thursday) and that should give a good indication of where we stand.

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“We can get off to a great start or dig ourselves a hole early. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to go.”

Pearl River finished the first half of its schedule Dec. 4 with an impressive 73-66 road win over 10th-ranked Itawamba after the Indians pulled off a last-second 62-61 win over the Wildcats Nov. 6 in Poplarville.

“We showed what we were capable of in going up there (Fulton) and returning the favor,” Mathis said. I think we’re a better basketball team now, but only time will tell the whole story.”

Mathis says his moving 6-foot-5 Brandon Payne of Mobile, Ala., from small forward to point has been positive.

“Brandon will push the ball,” he said. “After moving him, it seems our temp has picked up and we run the floor better.”

He also lauded the play of redshirt freshman guard Abram Robins of Forrest County AHS and true freshman Corey Breland of Perry Central.

“Abram played very well up at Itawamba and Corey’s has become one of most consistent shooters from the perimeter,” Mathis said. “He (Breland) is adjusting to playing at this level and should wind up a very good college player.”

Freshman guard-small forward Darionne Jones of Picayune High has proven himself to be one of the most consistent players on the Wildcat squad, while 6-foot-8 center LeBaron Weathers of Oak Grove is “getting better and better.

“LeBaron is the tallest guy we’ve got and he’s learing how to take more advantage of his height,” Mathis said. “He’s always been a good shooter and is learning how to play better with his back to the basket.”

Injury-plagued 6-foot-7 forward James Williams of Piney Woods seems to have returned to form after a slow recovery from a broken hand.

“Injurywise, the holiday break should prove beneficial for James,” Mathis said, “but keep your fingers crossed…he’s hurt that hand two times over the last six months and he’s a big key to our team.