River sweeps Southwest

February 7, 2011 - 2:34pm -- braswell

POPLARVILLE Pearl River Community College men and women basketball squads swept Southwest Mississippi for a pair of big MACJC South Division victories here Saturday in Shivers Gymnasium. The 11th-ranked Wildcats, the reigning state champions, came alive late to take a hard-fought 68-59 win over the visiting Bears, while the Lady Wildcats bombed the Lady Bears 55-41. The contests were originally scheduled for Thursday, but were postponed due to icy road conditions. PRCC men improved to 17-2 overall and 7-1 in division play, while its women are now 7-9 and 4-4 with four games left in the regular season all South Division foes before Feb. 21-24''s MACJC State Tournament to be played at the home court of the South women champion. The tournament will be comprised of the top four finishers in the North and South divisions. The 10th-ranked Copiah-Lincoln women, currently 17-1 overall and perfect at 9-0 in division play, have a solid hold on first place in the South and have three division dates remaining against Mississippi Gulf Coast, East Central, and Jones County. The PRCC women victory over SMCC was huge, as the Lady Wildcats are perched at fourth place in the South with playing dates against Hinds, Jones County, Mississippi Gulf Coast, and East Central looming in the regular season. PRCC men, on the other hand, are a half-game back behind South leader Mississippi Gulf Coast 8-1 in division play. The Wildcats Feb. 14 face off at home with the Bulldogs 82-77 winners over The River Jan. 20 in Perkinston should be pivotal in deciding the South Division No. 1 seed in the state tournament. SMCC men are now 3-12 and 2-6, while its women are 6-9 and 1-7. In the men game, the score was tied six times and the lead exchanged hands seven times in the first half. A Michael Hall trey and a Blake Rhodus two pointer in the final four minutes gave the Bears two seven-point leads their largest of game but Pearl River answered with a 6-2 run to close out the half to make it 37-24 at the intermission with Phillip Crawford out of Murphy High in Mobile, Ala., scoring all the Wildcats points in the surge. The second half was similar to the first with five ties and four lead exchanges. The River took the lead in the first two minutes when LaKendrick Maye of Prentiss High scored his only two points of the game to put the Wildcats up 38-37, while P.J. McCray hit a three to knot thing up at 40-40 at the 16:45 mark, then Cory Lacy followed with back-to-back threes over the next two minutes to push the Bears to a 46-42 advantage. Crawford pulled off a three-point play with 7:47 left to give PRCC a 53-52 edge. From that point, the score was knotted three times with SMCC taking a brief 55-53 lead before Crawford sank a pair of foul shots with 2:01 left to put the Wildcats up 59-57, kicking off an impressive 9-2 run to clinch the victory. Lacy led Southwest with 22 points (two treys), while McCray added 11 (three treys, three steals), Michael Hall 10 (two treys), Parker Moore six (two treys), Phillip Morris five (seven assists, three steals), George Thomas three, and Rhodus two. Crawford paced Pearl River with a season-high 30 points (eight rebounds), while Troy University signee Emil Jones of North Forrest High scored 13 (game-high nine rebounds), Daron Bell of Bay high 11 (six rebounds, five assists), Marshun McGee out of Baily Magnet High in Jackson six, Vincent Gable, Maye (five rebounds), LaBaron McMillian of Pascagoula High, two each; and Michael Peters of East Marion High one. Southwest hit 39.6 percent (19 of 48) from the field to Pearl River 54.9 percent (30 of 55), while the Bears were nine of 18 (50 percent) from three-point range to the Wildcats dismal one-of-eight (12.5 percent) effort. SMCC was 12 of 17 (70.6 percent) at the foul line, while PRCC was seven of 13 (53.8 percent). Saturday contest marked the second meeting of the two teams this season. On Jan. 10, The River defeated Southwest 78-60 in Summit. In the women game, the Lady Bears grabbed the lead once the entire game, taking a brief 11-10 edge midway in the first half. SMCC Valerie Eubanks hit a basket with 4:32 left before the break to pull the Lady Bears to within one 19-18 but Charlene Green out of South Pike High in Magnolia immediately answered with a three pointer that kicked off a 9-2 scoring run the rest of the way to give the Lady Wildcats a 28-20 advantage at the intermission. In the second half, Pearl River built its lead to 11 39-28 off a pair of free throws by Alayna Bridges of Oak Grove High with 12:08 left, while Southwest managed to pull to within 44-38 at the 6:39 mark. From the point, the Lady Wildcats outscored the Lady Bears 11-3 to take the 14-point victory. PRCC held SMCC scoreless for the last 4:50 of the contest. Brittany Patterson led the Lady Bears with 13 points (six rebounds), while Kierra Addison added nine, Jasmine Harbor seven (seven rebounds), Shanequa Bibbs six, Aunjanique Miller three, Eubanks two (six rebounds), and Candice Wiltz one (seven rebounds). Bridges paced the Lady Wildcats with a career-high 12 points (seven rebounds), while Francheska Bowman out of Choctaw High in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., added 10, hauled in a career-high 15 boards, and blocked an amazing nine shots. Kenyatta Epps of Yazoo City High scored nine (10 rebounds, six assists), Shandell Peters of East Marion High eight, Branita Malone, another Choctaw High (Fla.) recruit, five; Toy Johnson of Pascagoula High four (five rebounds), Green three, and Quentessa Bullock of East Maron High and Eugena Fry out of Wingfield High in Jackson, two each. Southwest hit 16.9 percent (12 of 71) from the field to Pearl River 36.5 percent (19 of 52), while the Lady Bears were two of 23 (8.7 percent) from three-point range to the Lady Wildcats one-of-11 (9.1 percent) effort. SMCC was 15 of 33 (45.5 percent) at the foul line, while PRCC was 16 of 31 (51.6 percent). The Lady Bears (28 offensive, 27 defensive) and the Lady Wildcats (14 offensive, 41 defensive) had identical rebounding totals with 55 each. Saturday contest marked the second meeting of the two teams this season. On Jan. 10, SMCC women defeated PRCC 83-71 in Summit for the Lady Bears only South Division win thus far into the 2010-2011 season. Pearl River resumes action Monday when it travels to South Division rival Hinds in Utica for 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) contests, then returns home Thursday to host division power Jones County at 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) in Shivers Gymnasium.

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