Lady Wildcats clinch division, Wildcats clinch MACJC berth with sweep over Meridian

            POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River Community College swept MACJC South Division foe Meridian here Thursday in Shivers Gymnasium with an impressive pair of “clinching” victories.
            The Lady Wildcats captured their first South Division title in two decades with their hard-fought 72-66 win over the Lady Eagles, while the Wildcats dominated the Eagles 64-43 and iced a berth in Feb. 24-27’s MACJC State Tournament, which will likely be played at Itawamba CC in Fulton.
            The PRCC women, 15-3 overall and 10-2 in division play, will enter the event as the South’s No. 1 seed. The River men improved to 15-5 and 8-4. Meridian’s women dropped to 14-6 and 7-5, while its men are now 5-16 and 3-8.
            The top four finishers in the MACJC North and South Divisions will earn berths in the tournament.
            ICC’s men lead the North at 8-2, followed by East Mississippi (7-2), Northwest Mississippi (7-3), and Coahoma (7-4), while East Miss’ women lead the North at 9-1, followed by Itawamba (8-2), Mississippi Delta (7-3), and Northwest Mississippi (6-4).
            In the South, Jones County and Mississippi Gulf Coast’s men are tied for No. 1 at 9-3 each, followed by Pearl River and Southwest Mississippi (6-6). Copiah-Lincoln, which wraps its regular season next Thursday at Pearl River, is still in the post-season hunt at 5-7.
Meridian, Southwest Mississippi, and Jones County are in a three-way tie for second in the South at 8-4 a piece behind Pearl River, while Co-Lin remains in playoff contention at 7-5.
            In Monday’s women’s game, the Lady Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and led for the entire first half. PRCC built its lead to as much as 13 points --- 25-12 --- with 5:10 left before the break. Meridian managed to cut The River’s lead to 34-27 in the final minute before the Lady ’Cats took a 37-28 lead at the intermission.
            The Lady Eagles opened the second half with an impressive 9-0 scoring run in the first two minutes to take a 39-37 lead --- their first of the game. Shanta’ Echols of Sumrall High, who finished the game with 22 points and 18 boards --- both team highs --- answered with a pair of free throws to tie it up, but MCC responded 9-4 scoring surge to go up 48-43 with 15:40 left. Even thought PRCC tied it up at 48-48 a minute later, Meridian remained on top for the next eight minutes, building its lead to as much as eight points --- 59-51 --- with 8:55 remaining.
            Deantra Darjean, a Prairie View A&M transfer out of Yates High in Houston, Tex., hit a basket at the 6:08 mark to knot things at 59-59, while Essence Pulliam out of Forest Hill High in Jackson banged in a two with 4:50 left to give Pearl River the lead. The Lady Eagles managed to tie it up at 66-66 with just over three minutes remaining, but Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson sank a pair of foul shots to give the Lady Wildcats the lead for good.
            Kristen Sampson led Meridian with a game-high 23 points (four assists, five steals, two treys), while Victoria Stewart added 20 (four rebounds), Miaya Crowder 15 (13 rebounds, two blocks), and Londyn Thomas and Feleshia Walters (eight rebounds, three assists), four each.
            Besides Echols, who also dished off three assists and was 10 of 11 at the foul line, Washington scored 18 (three treys, four assists, four steals), while Darjean added 16 (12 rebounds, four blocks, two assists), Taylor Brister, an East Central CC transfer from Prentiss, seven (four assists), Tamesha Horne of Taylorsville High five, and Pulliam four.
Pearl River hit 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field to Meridian’s 38.6 percent (27 of 70), while the Lady Wildcats were three of 12 (25 percent) from three-point range to the Lady Eagles’ three-of-19 (15.8 percent) effort. At the foul line, PRCC was 21 of 29 (72.4 percent), while MCC was nine of 12 (75 percent). Pearl River blistered the boards, finishing with 51 rebounds (20 offensive, 31 defensive), while Meridian hauled in 38 (14 offensive, 24 defensive). The River committed 26 turnovers in the contest to MCC’s 21.
In the men’s game, the Eagles amazingly held the Wildcats scoreless for the first 10:10 of the contest, while building a 9-0 lead.
Irishma Bowie of Morton High nailed a three with 9:50 left before the break to finally put The River on the scoreboard. Bowie’s trey kicked off a 16-11 run by the Wildcats to pull to within one in the final minute, while Southeastern Louisiana signee DeAngelo Coleman of South Pike High hit a basket at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 21-20 edge at the intermission.
Pearl River came alive in the second half, building its lead to double digits in the opening five minutes. Troy State (Ala.) signee Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High hit a trey with 14:50 left to make it 37-27 and kicked off a 10-2 scoring surge to build PRCC’s lead to 47-29 with 10:52 left. Hollimon banged in two more threes and a pair of field goals during the run, before adding another trey to make it 50-33 with 9:08 remaining.
The Wildcats managed to build their lead to as many as 23 points --- 64-41 --- in the final two minutes.
Corey Brister led Meridian with 12 points, while Brandon Daniels added eight (four rebounds), Kenny Davis (nine rebounds, four steals) and Donald King, seven each, William Byrd five (four rebounds), Kwame Brown three, and Jararreon Williams one.
            Hollimon paced PRCC with a game-high 26 points, including a six-for-eight effort from three point range, while Kaven Bernard out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La. (four steals, and Coleman (six assists, five rebounds, two treys), 10 each, Bowie eight (two treys), Lester Crosby of Franklinton (La.) High seven (two blocks), and Quintarius Porter, a Southwest Mississippi transfer out of Forest Hill High in Jackson, three (five rebounds).
Pearl River hit 43.8 percent (21 of 48) from the field to Meridian’s 36.5 percent (19 of 52) showing, while the Wildcats were an amazing 10 of 16 (62.5 percent) from three-point range to the Eagles’ one-of-17 (5.9 percent) effort. At the foul line, PRCC was 12 of 19 (63.2 percent), while Meridian was four of nine (44.4 percent).
Both teams had identical rebounding totals at 33 boards each, while Pearl River had eight offensive and 25 defensive and Meridian nine offensive and 24 defensive. The Wildcats committed 19 turnovers to the Eagles’ 20.
Meridian swept Pearl River in previous meetings played Jan 21 in Meridian with the Lady Wildcats falling 71-43 and the Wildcats were defeated 71-70.
PRCC returns to the hard court when it travels to South Division rival Jones County Monday for 5:30 p.m. (women) and 7:30 p.m. (men) games) before closing out the regular season at home against division foe Copiah-Lincoln Thursday, Feb. 20 with game times at 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men).
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MACJC South Division Women's & Men's Basketball Games
Played Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 @ Poplarville, MS
Pearl River 72, Meridian 66
First Half: 37-29 (PRCC)
Second Half: 37-35 (MCC)
Meridian (14-6, 7-5): Kristen Sampson 23 (4 assists, 5 steals, 2 treys), Victoria Stewart 20 (4 RB), Miaya Crowder 15 (13 RB, 2 blocks), Londyn Thomas 4, Feleshia Walters 4 (8 RB, 3 assists).
Pearl River (15-3, 10-2): Shanta’ Echols 22 (18 RB, 3 assists, 10 of 11 FT), Kalisha Washington 18 (3 treys, 4 assists, 4 steals), Deantra Darjean 16 (12 RB, 2 assists, 4 blocks), Taylor Brister 7 (4 assists), Tamesha Horne 5, Essence Pulliam 4.
FIELD GOALS: Pearl River – 24 of 62 (38.7%), Meridian – 27 of 70 (38.6%).
THREE POINTERS: Pearl River – 3 of 12 (25.0%), Meridian – 3 of 19 (15.8%).
FREE THROWS: Pearl River – 21 of 29 (72.4%), Meridian – 9 of 12 (75.0%).
REBOUNDS: Pearl River – 51 (20 offensive, 31 defensive), Meridian – 38 (14 offensive, 24 defensive).
TURNOVERS: Pearl River – 26, Meridian 21.
NOTE: Pearl River’s women clinch the MACJC South Division crown with Thursday’s victory over Meridian.
Pearl River 64, Meridian 43
First Half: 21-20 (PRCC)
Second Half: 43-23 (PRCC)
Meridian (5-16, 4-8): Corey Brister 12, Kenny Davis 7 (9 RB, 4 steals), Brandon Daniels 8 (4 RB), Donald King 7, William Byrd 5 (4 RB), Kwame Brown 3, Jararreon Williams 1.
Pearl River (15-5, 8-4): Jeremy Hollimon 26 (6 treys), Kaven Bernard 10 (4 steals), DeAngelo Coleman 10 (6 assists, 5 RB, 2 treys), Irishma Bowie 8 (2 treys), Lester Crosby 7 (2 blocks), Quintarius Porter 3 (5 RB).
FIELD GOALS: Pearl River – 21 of 48 (43.8%), Meridian – 19 of 52 (36.5%).
THREE POINTERS: Pearl River – 10 of 16 (62.5%), Meridian – 1 of 17 (5.88%).
FREE THROWS: Pearl River – 12 of 19 (63.2%), Meridian – 4 of 9 (44.4%).
REBOUNDS: Pearl River – 33 (8 offensive, 25 defensive), Meridian – 33 (9 offensive, 24 defensive).
TURNOVERS: Pearl River – 19, Meridian 20.
NOTE: Meridian swept Pearl River in previous meetings played Jan. 21 in Meridian with the Lady Wildcats falling 71-43 and the Wildcats suffering a 71-70 defeat. In addition, PRCC’s men clinched a berth in Feb. 24-27’s MACJC State Tournament with their victory over Meridian.
UP NEXT: PRCC returns to the hard court when it travels to South Division rival Jones County Monday for 5:30 p.m. (women) and 7:30 p.m. (men) games) before closing out the regular season at home against division foe Copiah-Lincoln Thursday, Feb. 20 with game times at 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men).

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