River falls in Region 23 title bout to Jones 80-67

CLINTON --- ’Cat Fight III was all Jones County here Saturday in the men’s title bout of the Region 23 Tournament in A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
The 19th-ranked Bobcats are now headed to March 17-22’s NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., after ending Pearl River’s season with an 80-67 victory over the Wildcats, marking the first time in history that a Jones team (men or women) has earned a national berth.
JCJC improved to 22-5 with the win, while PRCC wrapped its season at 18-8.
Pearl River never led in the contest, but managed to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 32-31 when Kaven Bernard out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La., hit a basket at the buzzer to end the first half.
Jones County jumped out to a 14-point lead --- 26-12 --- at the 7:10 mark, but the Wildcats answered with an impressive 19-6 scoring run, capped by Bernard’s buzzer beater.
JCJC outscored PRCC 48-36 in the second half, grabbing a double-digit lead at the 13:55 mark --- 48-37 --- and eventually building its advantage to 61-45 --- its largest of the game --- with 7:48 left. The Wildcats managed to cut the Bobcats lead to eight at the 3:54 mark, but that was as closest as they would come.
Bernard led The River with 18 points (nine rebounds), while Troy State (Ala.) signee Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High added 16 (two treys, four assists), including an eight-for-eight effort at the foul line. Quintarius Porter, a Southwest Mississippi CC transfer who prepped at Forest Hill High in Jackson, scored 14 (seven rebounds, three assists, two steals), Southeastern Louisiana signee DeAngelo Coleman of South Pike High 12 (five assists, two treys), Lester Crosby of Franklinton (La.) High five, and Devontai Foye of Hattiesburg High two.
Leroy Fludd paced Jones with 20 points (two steals), while Thaddeus Hall added 18 (seven rebounds, four assists), Johnny Zuppardo 16 (three assists, five steals, two blocks), Leo Garrett 14 (seven rebounds, four treys, two steals), Bryce Jones 10 (eight assists, six steals), and Christopher White two.
Jones County hit 56.3 percent (27 of 48) from the field to Pearl River’s 50 percent (23 of 46) effort, while the Bobcats were seven of 14 (50 percent) from three-point range to the Wildcats’ four-of-10 (40 percent) showing. At the foul line, JCJC hit 67.9 percent (19 of 28) to PRCC’s 81 percent (17 of 21).
Jones hauled in 28 rebounds (eight offensive, 20 defensive) to The River’s 26 (seven offensive, 19 defensive), while the Bobcats committed 18 turnovers to the Wildcats’ 26.
 
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2014 NJCAA REGION 23 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
March 5-8 / Mississippi College / Clinton, MS
 
No. 7 Jones County vs. No. 6 Pearl River
Men’s Championship Game Played March 8, 2014
 
JONES COUNTY 80, PEARL RIVER 67
Halftime: 32-31 (JCJC)
Second Half: 48-36 (JCJC)
 
SCORERS
PEARL RIVER (18-8): Kaven Bernard 18 (9 RB, 6 of 8 FT), Jeremy Hollimon 16 (2 treys, 4 assists, 8 of 8 FT), Quintarius Porter 14 (7 RB, 3 assists, 2 steals), DeAngelo Coleman 12 (5 assists, 2 treys), Lester Crosby 5, Devontai Foye 2.
 
JONES COUNTY (22-5): Leroy Fludd 20 (2 steals, 5 of 6 FT), Thaddeus Hall 18 (7 RB, 4 assists, 9 of 10 FT), Johnny Zuppardo 16 (3 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks), Leo Garrett 14 (7 RB, 4 treys, 3 assists, 2 steals), Bryce Jones 10 (8 assists, 6 steals), Christopher White 2.
 
FIELD GOALS: JCJC 27 of 48 (56.3%), PRCC 23 of 46 (50.0%).
THREE POINTERS: JCJC – 7 of 14 (50.0%), PRCC – 4 of 10 (40.0%).
FREE THROWS: JCJC – 19 of 28 (67.9%), PRCC – 17 of 21 (81.0%).
REBOUNDS: JCJC – 28 (8 offensive, 20 defensive), PRCC – 26 (7 offensive, 19 defensive).
TURNOVERS: JCJC – 18, PRCC – 26.
 
UP NEXT: Champ Jones County will represent Region 23 in the men’s NJCAA National Tournament set for March 17-22 set for the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.

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