POPLARVILLE Pearl River Community College Wildcats have moved up to No. 5 in the NJCAA Jan. 4 regular-season Division I basketball poll, marking the highest ranking in school history. Head coach Richard Mathis undefeated squad, the reigning MACJC state champions, entered the season at No. 25 in the preseason balloting and has since rolled off 11 straight victories. The Wildcats moved up to 12th in Nov. 16''s poll, 11th Nov. 11, and seventh Nov. 30 before falling a spot to eighth on Dec. 7. You just have to keep on winning, said Mathis, who has won five state championships over the past 19 seasons at The River. Weve made the poll several times over the years, but have never gotten this high. It a great thing for our team and our school to get this kind of recognition. Pearl River is joined in the poll by MACJC non-division rival East Mississippi, which holds down the No. 18 spot with its 10-1 record in the latest balloting. PRCC defeated East Miss 61-58 for the 2009-2010 state title last February. Hutchinson Community College is No. 1 in the poll, a first for the Kansas-based school since 1992, followed by No. 2 San Jacinto College-Central (Tex.), No. 3 Conners State College (Okla.), and No. 4 Northwest Florida State College. The complete NJCAA Division I men poll can be accessed at <a href="http://www.njcaa.org/">www.njcaa.org.</a> Mathis, who is amidst his 20th season with the Wildcats, has guided Pearl River to five state titles 1994-95, 1997-98, 2003-04, 2004-05, and last year. In addition, he has won two other state championships a men title at Northeast Mississippi in Booneville and a women title at his alma mater East Mississippi in Scooba. Pearl River women and men squads return to action Thursday with a road trip to Mississippi Delta in Moorhead for 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) contests before tipping off a 11-game South Division stretch to conclude the regular season. The River travels to Southwest Mississippi in Summit Monday (5 p.m. and 7 p.m.), then returns home to host Hinds at the same game times. The top four women and men finishers in the MACJC North and South divisions earn berths in the MACJC State Tournament set for Feb. 21-24, while the Region 23 Tournament is on tap the following week. Regional champions earn berths in the NJCAA National Tournaments at Salina, Kan. (women) and Hutchinson, Kan. (men).
Submitted by braswell on January 5, 2011 - 9:24am