River splits with East Central

            POPLARVILLE — Pearl River split a pair of MACJC South Division men’s and women’s basketball match ups here Monday with the 21st-ranked Wildcats taking a dominating 75-58 victory, while the Lady Wildcats fell 71-66 despite an impressive comeback run in the second half.
            PRCC’s men improved to 16-2 overall and 7-1 in division play, while its women dropped to 5-10 and 3-5. ECCC’s men dropped to 1-17 and 1-6, while it women are now 6-12 and 3-4.
            The Wildcats remain atop the South Division’s men’s standings with the lopsided win.
            In the men’s game, the visiting Warriors managed to grab the lead once and tied it up twice in the early going, but Pearl River took the lead at 12-10 off a three-point play by center Frank Snow, a San Angelia CC transfer from Wellington, Fla., at the 10:45 mark of the first half and never looked back.
            Snow’s go-ahead effort kicked off a 17-11 run by the Wildcats to make it 29-21 at the break.
            East Central cut the lead to 33-29 off a three-pointer by Akeem Toppin three minutes into the second half, but The River answered with a 9-2 scoring run over the next two minutes to grab its first double-digit lead of the game at 42-31. From that point, the Wildcats outscored the Warriors 33-27 to take the 17-point victory.
            The victory margin was PRCC’s two biggest leads of the game. Back-to-back treys by Xavian Rimmer, an Alcorn State transfer who prepped at Piney Woods School near Jackson, made it 73-56 with 3:29 left, while DeAngelo Coleman out of South Pike High in Magnolia hit the game’s final bucket at the 1:11 mark.
            Bobby Wrench led East Central with a game-high 24 points, while Aquill Baynard scored 11 (six rebounds, four assists, two steals), Rodney Collier eight (three steals), Chris Rhoney seven (two steals), and Walter Evans and T.J. Leatherwood (three assists) four each.
            Rimmer paced The River with 19 points (two treys, six rebounds, six assists), while Coleman added 11 (four assists, two steals), Kaven Bernard out of Assumption High in Napoleonville, La. (two steals) and Snow (five rebounds, three blocks), nine each; Derionne Stewart of Picayune High seven (two steals), Jeremy Hollimon of Gulfport High six, Josh Carpenter of Oak Grove High (four rebounds) and DeMondre Harvey of Minden (La.) High (four rebounds), five each; and Daniel Grieves, a U.S. Air Force Academy transfer who prepped at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, four (four rebounds, four assists).
            Pearl River hit a 52.7 percent (29 of 55) from the field to East Central’s 22-of-55 (40 percent) effort, while the Wildcats were an impressive 13 of 15 (86.7 percent) from the free throw line — a season’s best percentile — to the Warriors’ 11-of-16 (52.6 percent) showing. From three-point range, PRCC was four of 18 (22.2 percent), while ECCC was three of 13 (23.1 percent).
            The River dominated the boards with 35 rebounds (eight offensive, 27 defensive) to East Central’s 26 (eight offensive, 18 defensive), while both teams committed 19 turnovers each.
            In the women’s game, Pearl River managed one lead that sandwiched two stalemates in the opening minutes before East Central went up 6-4 off a basket by Renesha Evans at the 15:42 mark of the first half and stayed in front the rest of the way.
            Evan’s bucket kicked off a 16-8 scoring run — capped by a three pointer by Taylor Brister — over the next nine minutes to give the Lady Warriors their first double-digit lead at 22-12. Brister’s basket at the 3:10 mark put ECCC up 31-13 for its largest lead of the first half before Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson answered with a trey and a two pointer off a steal over a 13-second span. Evans hit the final bucket of the half to make it 33-22 at the intermission.
            In the second half, the Lady Warriors opened with a 29-25 run to grab its largest lead of the game at 62-47 with 8:39 left, but PRCC answered with an impressive 19-9 scoring surge the rest of the way only to come up six points shy of victory.
            Washington’s back-to-back baskets at the 2:17 and 1:20 marks pulled the Lady Wildcats to within three — 69-66 — before Jaianah Matthew sank a pair for foul shots to end the scoring.
            Matthew led ECCC with 16 points (two treys, four assists), while Brister (three treys, seven assists, three steals) and Xzandra Dowd (13 rebounds, four assists, three steals) scored 14 each, Evans four (five rebounds), Tyneisa Mickens three (two steals), and Tanihhija Hughes two.
            Washington paced The River with a game and career-high 27 points (three treys, five rebounds, four assists, three steals), while Valescia Dixon of East Marion High (nine rebounds, three steals) and Lolecia Richardson out of Provine High in Jackson scored 11 each, Daiquari Raine of Poplarville High eight (five rebounds), Francheska Bowman out of Choctaw High in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., seven (10 rebounds, four blocks, three steals); and Rebekah Harwell out of M.C. Perry High in Iwakuni, Japan, two.
            Pearl River hit 66.7 percent (12 of 18) from the free-throw line to east Central’s 55 percent (11 of 20), while the Lady Wildcats were 25 of 62 (40.3 percent) from the field to the Lady Warriors’ 27-of-57 (47.4 percent) effort. From three-point range, ECCC was seven of 17 (35.3 percent); while PRCC was four of 15 (26.7 percent).
            The River had a slight edge on the boards with 38 rebounds (17 offensive, 21 defensive) to East Central’s 37 (16 offensive, 21 defensive), while both teams committed 29 turnovers each.
            Pearl River split with East Central in previous games played Dec. 3 in Decatur. PRCC’s women fell 67-41, while its men were 81-66 winners.
            PRCC’s women and men return to action Thursday when MACJC South Division arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast visits Shivers Gymnasium for 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) contests before traveling to division foe Southwest Mississippi Monday, Feb. 11, for 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) game times.

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