Wildcats rebound from early-season slump

Wildcats rebound from early-season slump

A three-game losing streak in November dropped the Pearl River men out of the NJCAA rankings, but a three-game winning streak after Thanksgiving seems to have righted the ship.
 
PRCC is 6-3 overall heading into the lengthy Christmas break, but more importantly, the Wildcats are 2-0 in the South Division after a 71-55 victory over Co-Lin on Dec. 7.
 
“I think we forgot what was important,” said Pearl River interim coach Chris Oney. “We just had to get back to the basics. I wasn’t that we weren’t playing hard, it’s just that everybody was trying to make plays and we weren’t playing as a team.”
 
The Wildcats came out of the 11-day Thanksgiving break with a 62-56 win at Baton Rouge and followed that up with a 69-59 win in their division opener at Southwest.
 
Heading into the month-long break with two division victories has left the Wildcats with a good feeling, but Oney says there is a long way to go.
 
“Our goal is to win a championship at the end of the year,” Oney said. “You don’t win championships in November, you win championships in March.
 
“We’ve been concentrating on getting better and playing the way we need to play to win a championship.”
 
If the Wildcats are to win a third consecutive MACJC state championship, they will need continued stellar play from sophomore forward Darrlyn Willis.
 
The 6-foot-8 Wichita State signee leads the team with 16.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He was especially solid against the Wolves in Pearl River’s last game, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
 
“Darryln is a tough kids who wants to win,” Oney said. “He’s the ultimate team player. The first couple of games, he felt like he had to score and he was pressing a bit. The last few games, the guys have all picked up their games.”
 
With a deep, talented bench, Oney knows he has the luxury of riding whoever has the hot hand at any given moment in a game.
 
“We don’t go into a game looking for one guy to play out of his mind,” said Oney. “We go in with the idea of playing as a team, and we’ve had a lot of guys who have given us valuable minutes at various points in games.”
 
Oney did single out Quartiez “Teddy” Scott, who scored 15 points against Co-Lin, as one player that has really elevated his game.
 
“Quartiez has really stepped it up a notch that past few weeks,” Oney said. “He does a lot of things for us that don’t show up in a box score. He does so much for us, especially on defense.
 
“(Against Co-Lin), at times he was guarding four different guys. At times, he had the 3-guard, the 4, the 2-guard and the point guard. He’s been phenomenal for us.”
 
Oney said the Wildcats will return to Poplarville a day or two before New Year’s Day and get ready for their first two games of 2016, Jan. 5 against Delgado (La.) and Jan. 7 against Mississippi Delta, both at home.
 
Although those games are non-division contests, Oney says they are just as important as division games.
 
“Two years ago, they changed the rules so that all region games count toward whether you get into the (Region 23) tournament over at Clinton,” Oney said. “So we need to hit the ground running when we get back after Christmas.”

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