Wildcats capture South title

Published 1:02 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Special to the Item

POPLARVILLE — Pearl River’s Wildcats clinched the MACJC South Division crown here Monday with a dominating 70-58 victory over East Central.

In addition, PRCC’s men pumped their winning streak to 13 straight to improve to 19-4 overall and 9-2 in division play.

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In Monday’s opening game, PRCC’s women suffered an 81-70 division loss to the Lady Warriors and dropped to 7-15 overall and 1-10 in division play. ECCC’s women, on the other hand, improved to 13-9 and 5-6, while its men fell to 5-16 and 1-10.

The South Division’s men’s MACJC State Tournament line up is already set with Pearl River’s men leading the way followed by Jones County (8-3) which is a game up on third-place Hinds (7-4), which fell to Copiah-Lincoln 79-77 Monday. Mississippi Gulf Coast (7-5) is fourth.

The top four men’s and women’s finishers in the MACJC North and South division earn berths in Feb. 22-25’s state tournament to be played at East Mississippi in Scooba — the North men’s champion.

East Miss’ men (10-1) has already clinched the North crown and is followed by Itawamba (7-4), Northeast Mississippi (6-5), and Mississippi Delta (5-5). Holmes and Northwest Mississippi are still in the mix at 5-6 each.

Northwest Mississippi’s Lady Rangers (9-2) lead the women’s North Division race, followed by Itawamba (8-3), Mississippi Delta (7-3), and East Mississippi (7-4).

Like the men, the South women’s state tourney line up is also set with the nationally-ranked Copiah-Lincoln Lady Wolves (11-0) leading the way, followed by Jones County and Southwest Mississippi (both 8-3) and East Central (5-6).

In Monday’s men’s game, the score was tied three times and the lead exchanged hands five times in the first half.

Rod Little of Moss Point hit a basket with 2:50 left before the break to put PRCC up 22-21. The Wildcats outscored the Warriors 4-2 the rest of the way to give The River a narrow 26-23 edge at the intermission.

Pearl River dominated the second half, outscoring East Central 44-35 and built 17-point leads three times before the game ended. Mychael Keeler of Oak Grove hit a bucket with 5:30 left to pump the Wildcats to a 66-51 lead, but Jasper Bronson answered with his fourth trey of the night to kick off a 7-4 Warrior run to end the game.

Bronson finished the game with a team-high 14 points, while Kenneth Thomas added 12, Steve Edwards 1.

Little paced the Wildcats with a game-high 16 points (three assists), while Kenderek Washington of Hinds AHS pulled off a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 13 boards. Phillip Crawford of Mobile, Ala., added 13 (seven rebounds, two blocked shots), LaKendrick Maye of Prentiss High nine, Desmond Ratliff of Canton High eight (four assists).

East Central was 21 of 54 (38.9 percent) from the field to Pearl River’s impressive 32-of-59 (59.3 percent) effort, while the Warriors were eight of 26 (30.8 percent) from three-point range.

The River zilched from beyond the arc on seven trey attempts. At the foul line, ECCC was eight of 21 (38.1 percent), while PRCC was six of 13 (46.2 percent).

Pearl River dominated the boards with 49 rebounds (19 offensive, 30 defensive) to East Central’s 18 (nine offensive, nine defensive).

In the women’s game, East Central led 39-28 at the intermission, but the two teams duels to a 42-42 stalemate in the second half.

The Lady Wildcats opened the second half with an 8-0 run in the first two minutes to cut the Lady Warriors’ lead to 39-36, but Hannah Lee answered with one of her three treys on the night and kicked off a 28-9 scoring run to build ECCC’s lead to 64-48 — its largest of the game — with 9:51 left.

Pearl River retaliated with a 16-6 run to pull to within five — 70-65 — with 4:36 left, but East Central outscored the Lady Wildcats 11-5 the rest of the way to take the 11-point victory.

Danielle Cole led the Lady Warriors with a game-high 26 points (seven rebounds), while Hannah Lee added 11 (three treys, six rebounds), Yolanda Jones 10, Shantel Neely nine.

Kenyatta Epps of Yazoo City paced The River with 20 points, including five three pointers, while Brittany Weathers of Oak Grove added 17 (three treys, five rebounds, five assists). Charlene Green of South Pike scored 14 (three treys), Nicole Holder of Lumberton High 10.

PRCC wraps up its 2009-2010 regular-season Thursday against division foe Copiah-Lincoln in Wesson at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men).