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River splits two games with Co-Lin

POPLARVILLE — Both Pearl River Community College basketball teams wrapped up regular season play at home Thursday night with different results.

PRCC split a pair of South Division games with visiting Co-Lin, as the Lady Wildcats fell 63-48 to the Lady Wolves, while the PRCC men pulled off a 71-68 victory. Both River squads had already clinched berths in next week’s MACJC State Tournament at Itawamba CC in Fulton. The tourney begins Monday and wraps up on Thursday.

The Lady Wildcats wrapped the regular season at 15-5 overall and 10-4 in division play, while the Wildcats finished at 16-6 and 9-5. CLCC’s women are 16-7 and 9-5, while its men are 9-14 and 5-9.

The women’s game saw seven lead changes and four deadlocks in the first half. Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson pulled off a three-point play with 4:36 left before the break to knot things at 24-24, but Jessica Wilson immediately answered with a basket to give the Lady Wolfpack the lead for good. Co-Lin led 30-25 at the intermission.

CLCC opened the second half with an 11-5 scoring run to pump its lead to 41-20 with 13:03 left. PRCC fought back to cut the deficit to five points twice over the next eight minutes. Shanta’ Echols of Sumrall High sank a pair of free throws with 5:16 remaining to cut the Lady Wolves’ lead to 48-43, but Claresa Banks ensuing foul shot kicked off a 15-5 Co-Lin run the rest of the way.

Ashley Minor sank four free throws and Tyra Gibson two in the final minute to cap the drive and give the Lady Wolfpack their biggest lead of the game.

Minor led CLCC with 18 points (eight rebounds, three steals), while Wilson added 10 (10 rebounds, Gibson nine (five rebounds, four assists).

Echols paced The River with a game-high 19 points (12 rebounds), while Deantra Darjean, a Prairie View A&M transfer out of Yates High in Houston, Tex., scored 10 (five rebounds, six assists), Washington seven, Kendra Hall of Poplarville High five.

In the men’s game, the Wolfpack, which sported a six-man roster after numerous dismissals two weeks ago due to disciplinary issues, gave the Wildcats all they could handle.

Co-Lin led for practically the entire first half until Quintarius Porter, a Southwest Mississippi CC transfer out of Forest Hill High in Jackson, nailed a three with 1:25 left before the break to put The River up 34-32.

The Wolves immediately tied it up via a pair of foul shots by Michael Vardaman, but Sullivan Bell of Picayune High answered with a three-point play to put PRCC up by three. Corey Cox sank a free throw with 13.1 seconds left to cut Pearl River’s lead to 36-35 at the intermission.

The Wolfpack never regained the lead, but kept it close. After the Wildcats opened the second half with a 15-6 run to pump its lead to 52-41 — its largest of the game — Co-Lin answered with a 17-9 scoring surge over the next six plus minutes to pull to within three at 61-58 with 5:19 left.

LaJustin Anderson capped the comeback run with a three-point play and hit a basket at the 4:23 mark to cut The River’s lead to 63-60, but that was as close as the Wolves would get.

Michael Vardamen led the Wolves with 18 points while LeJustin Anderson added 16 points and Trey Morris 15 points. Terrance James scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

For the Wildcats, Kaven Bernard paved the way with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Picayune’s Sullivan Bell had one of his best games of the year with 13 points and five rebounds. Jeremy Hollimon added 12 points, six assists and five rebounds to the winning effort.

PRCC split with Copiah-Lincoln in previous meetings played Jan. 27 in Wesson with the Lady Wildcats losing 78-69, while the Wildcats were 70-56 winners.