Pearl River ‘refuses to lose’ and upsets Meridian
MERIDIAN, Miss. — The Pearl River women’s basketball team pulled off a hard fought victory Friday night when it defeated Meridian 66-62 to upset the Eagles on their home court.
“I challenged these girls tonight,” head coach Scotty Fletcher. “I asked them to just dig a little deeper. I told them I needed them to play harder than they’ve ever played and be together more then they’ve ever been before.
“They deserve all the credit. Coaches may call plays but it’s up to the players to make plays and they did it tonight.”
The contest was the Wildcats’ (4-3 overall, 4-3 MACCC) first in 13 days since they defeated Hinds at Marvin R. White Coliseum.
“These girls have played two games in 43 days,” an emotional Fletcher said. “The way they’ve handled the adversity they’ve had has been incredible.”
REFUSING TO LOSE
The Wildcats found themselves behind early after Meridian (11-3, 11-3) got off to a hot start taking a 20-14 lead going into the second quarter.
The Wildcats clawed back, though, outscoring the Eagles 12-10 in the second.
A big sequence of the quarter came with about 6:30 left when Bryanna Taylor (Terry) got an offensive board and a putback; after a Wildcat stop, Taylor did it once again while being fouled.
Taylor sunk her and-one to cut the Meridian lead to 22-21.
The Wildcats took a 25-24 lead a couple possessions later before surrendering it again.
The second half was where the Wildcats soared offensively, scoring 20 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
“I think the biggest thing that worked out for us in the second half was that we had 10 turnovers and only three of them were in the second half,” Fletcher said. “I really challenged our post players and guards to go out and get those offensive rebounds too. The bottom line is those girls went out there and had a refuse to lose mentality.
“On top of that we had to try some new things defensively with a shorter roster.”
The final six minutes of the contest saw the Wildcats string together a fury of clutch possessions.
The Wildcats finally retook the lead with 5:09 left when Keshunti Nichols (Pearl) hit two free throws to give PRCC a 53-52 lead.
A pull-up from Taylor and a made free throw by Ty’Mesha Reed (Meridian) made it a 57-52 contest with three minutes left.
Tae Burrage (Carthage; Leake County) answered a Meridian run with a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats 61-56 lead with a 1:30 left.
Meridian refused to go away, however, cutting the Wildcat lead to 61-58 before Reed hit a dagger 3-pointer to give PRCC a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.
Reed scored the final points of the game on free throws to secure the 66-62 win.
LEADING THE WAY
Burrage led the Wildcats in scoring with 20, followed by Nichols who scored 14.
“Tae is probably the most consistent player I’ve ever coached here,” Fletcher said. “She deserves every award or accolade that comes her way. She’s a first class player and a first class human being.”
Taylor and Reed also scored 11 points each.
“Ty’Mesha wanted to win this game more than anybody,” Fletcher said. “I grew up in Meridian. This is a special place for both of us. She sent me a text this morning that said ‘It’s game day coach. Let’s get it’ and I knew right then she was going to propel us to victory.
“She had that refuse to lose mentality and it showed tonight.”
The Wildcats will open Region XXIII tournament play next week. The play-in round portion of the tournament will be on March 29 with the first round on March 31 and the semifinals on April 5. The last two rounds will be played on April 8 and 9 at Mississippi College.
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