Wildcats take sole possession of first in the South Division via double-OT win over Jones

            ELLISVILLE — The 25th-ranked Pearl River Wildcats took sole possession of first place in the MACJC South Division here Thursday with an 83-79 double-overtime victory over host Jones County.
            PRCC’s women, on the other hand, dropped a hard-fought 74-70 decision to the Lady Bobcats to open the night’s action.
            The River men improved to 14-1 overall and 5-0 in division play, while its women dropped to 5-8 and 2-3. JCJC’s men, which received votes in the latest NJCAA Division I poll, fell to 12-3 and 4-1; while its women are now 8-5 and 3-2.
            In the men’s game, the first half was indicative of the entire contest as the score was tied nine times and saw nine lead exchanges. Desmond Stanback nailed a three pointer at the 8:10 mark to put the Bobcats up 23-21 and JCJC maintained its advantage for the next three minutes until Devontai Foye of Hattiesburg High hit a basket to tie it up at 27-27. The score was knotted three more times before the break with Emmanuel Davis’ basket making it 34-34 with three second left as the half ended.
            In the second half, Donta Pittman’s goal two minutes in snapped a 36-36 stalemate and the Bobcats stayed on top until Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High banged in a trey at the buzzer to knot it up at 69-69 to send the game into its first overtime.
            Pittman’s basket kicked off a 14-8 run over the next seven minutes that boosted JCJC’s lead to 53-44 — its largest of the game. Pearl River answered with an impressive 13-5 scoring run to cut the lead to one — 58-57 — at the 5:53 mark. From that point, the Wildcats outscored the Bobcats 12-11 — capped by Hollimon’s buzzer-beating three — marking the first OT period.
            In overtime, J.J. Bolton put Jones up 71-69 when he scored off a turnover, then Detrick Davis hit a foul shot before Xavian Rimmer, an Alcorn State transfer who prepped at Piney Woods School near Jackson, nailed a three to tie it up at 72-72 with 1:30 left for the final points of the first OT.
            In the second OT, Bolton’s trey put the Bobcats up 75-72 with 4:35 left, but Rimmer and Hollimon answered with goals to make it 76-75 PRCC at the 2:32 mark. Fifteen seconds later, Bolton sank a pair of free throws to give Jones its last lead of the contest. DeMondre Harvey of Minden (La.) High then hit a basket on a put back before Daniel Grieves, a U.S. Air Force Academy transfer who prepped at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, sank two foul shots to make it 80-77 with 1:02 left. Cody Jackson’s basket cut The River’s lead to one in the final minute, but Rimmer’s three in the final seconds sealed the victory for the Wildcats.
            Hollimon paced Pearl River with a game-high 17 points (two treys, five rebounds), while Rimmer added 14 (three treys, six assists, two steals). Grieves scored 12, Kaven Bernard out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La., 10 (five assists, two steals); DeAngelo Coleman out of South Pike High in Magnolia seven (five assists, three steals), Harvey six (seven rebounds), Rakeem Esco of Canton High and Foye, five each; Jimmy Henderson, a Northwest Mississippi CC transfer who prepped at Houston (Miss.) High four (two blocks), and Frank Snow, a San Angelina CC (Tex.) transfer from Wellington, Fla., three.
            Bolton led the Bobcats with 16 points (eight rebounds, five assists, two treys, two steals), while Detrick Davis scored 15 (10 rebounds, two blocks), Donta Pittman 11 (five assists, two steals), Emmanuel Davis 10 (five rebounds), Cody Jackson (10 rebounds, two steals), Davonvious Lewis (two treys), and Raymond Pittman, six a piece; and David McClendon, Desmond Stanback, and Tanner Wozniak, three a piece.
            Pearl River hit a dismal 40.7 percent (11 of 27) from the free-throw line to Jones County’s 60.7 percent (17 of 28), while the Wildcats were 32 of 52 (51.6 percent) from the field to the Bobcats’ 27-of-62 (43.5 percent) effort. From three-point range, PRCC was eight of 26 (30.8 percent), while JCJC was eight of 18 (44.4 percent).
            On the boards, The River finished with 36 rebounds (10 offensive, 26 defensive) to Jones’ 46 (15 offensive, 31 defensive), while the Wildcats committed 22 turnovers to the Bobcats’ 25.
            In the women’s game, the first half saw four lead exchanges and six deadlocks. Rebekah Harwell out of M.C. Perry High in Iwakuni, Japan, sank a pair of four shots at the 16:14 mark to put the Lady Wildcats’ up 8-6 and PRCC hung on to its lead for the next four minutes before Chelsea Phillips’ trey gave the Lady Bobcats a 16-15 edge with 11:52 left before the break.
            With 7:20 left, Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson hit a two on a put back to snap a 22-22 stalemate and Pearl River remained on top until Caitlyn Spane nailed a three with 2:48 left to give JCJC the lead for good. Spane’s goal kicked off a 9-3 scoring run that gave the Lady Bobcats a 38-31 lead at the intermission.
            Kaylan Hughes pulled off a three-point play in the opening minute of the second half and pump Jones’ lead to 10. Pearl River trailed 59-39 with 13:30 left, but retaliated with an impressive 13-5 scoring run over the next six-plus minutes to pull to within three — 55-52. With JCJC up 61-55, Francheska Bowman out of Choctaw High in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., and Valescia Dixon of East Marion High both zeroed at the foul line, while the Lady Bobcats pumped their lead to 68-56 — their largest of the game — off a three-point play by Precious Jefferson with 4:16 left.
            From that point, Pearl River wrapped the game with an impressive 14-6 scoring run only to come up five points shy of victory.
            Chaquita McGee of Yazoo City High (four assists) and Daiquari Raine of Poplarville High (11 rebounds) led The River with 13 points each, while Washington scored 11 (seven rebounds, six of six free throws, five steals), Jeronda Beason of Poplarville High nine (three steals), Bowman eight (four of four field goals), Dixon(seven rebounds) and Harwell (four steals), six each; and Lolecia Richardson out of Provine High in Jackson four (five rebounds, three steals).
            Kaylan Hughes paced JCJC with a game-high 15 points — five-for-five effort from the field — while Jefferson added 14 (10 rebounds, six of seven free throws), Chelsea Phillips 12 (seven steals), Khadijah Jones (two blocks) and LaTisha McCullum (nine rebounds, two treys), 10 each; Caitlyn Spane nine (11 rebounds, two treys), and Kiara Speed four.
            Pearl River hit 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from the free-throw line to Jones County’s 48.1 percent (13 of 27), while the Lady Wildcats were 26 of 67 (38.8 percent) from the field to the Lady Bobcats’ 28-of-58 (48.3 percent) effort. From three-point range, both teams hit 33.3 percent — PRCC two of six, JCJC five of 15.
            Jones had a slight advantage on the boards with 44 rebounds (18 offensive, 26 defensive) to The River’s 43 (22 offensive, 21 defensive), while the Lady Wildcats committed 27 turnovers in the game to the Lady Bobcats’ 32.
            Pearl River and Jones County eye South Division women’s and men’s rematches Monday, Feb. 18, in Shivers Gym in Poplarville.
            The River’s women and men return to action Monday when MACJC South Division rival Copiah-Lincoln visits Shivers Gymnasium for 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) contests, then the PRCC squads travel to division foe Hinds in Utica for games at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men).

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