Wildcats take on East Mississippi in state tournament

Wildcats take on East Mississippi in state tournament

POPLARVILLE – It’s the second season for Pearl River Community College, as the Wildcats begin postseason play Monday at the MACJC State Basketball Tournament.

PRCC will battle East Mississippi at 2 p.m. Monday in the opening round of the tournament at Howard Coliseum on the campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia.

Pearl River (18-4) enters play as the No. 1 seed from the South Division, while the Lions (12-11) are the fourth seed from the North. The Wildcats claimed the division title with a 79-75 victory at Copiah-Lincoln on Thursday.

“We’re very excited about playing in the tournament,” said Pearl River coach Chris Oney. “We expect to win championships here, and we recruit kids with that championship DNA, so that when they’re put in those kinds of situations, they seize the moment.”

Although East Mississippi has a middling record, Oney is wary of the Lions, especially considering that the last meeting between the two teams was at the exact same point in the season two years ago, the first round of the state tournament, a game the Wildcats lost 80-73.

“I’ve talked to a lot of coaches, and they all agree that this might be the most talented group of teams that have played in this tournament in quite a while,” Oney said. “Top to bottom they’re all very good.

“We’re just going to prepare like we always do and try to control the things that we can control.”

Pearl River has been led all season by freshman Eric Thornton Jr. (Jackson), who leads the MACJC in scoring with 20.1 points per game. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 50.4 percent from the field for the season.

The winner of Monday’s quarterfinal game advances to take on the winner between Mississippi Gulf Coast and Holmes in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Monday’s game will be livestreamed on nwccrangers.com/watch.

A loss on Monday will not end Pearl River’s season, as the Wildcats have qualified as the No. 2 seed in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, next week at Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton. PRCC will play Gulf Coast in the opening round of the regional.