Defending state champ Wildcats top century mark 116-75 over SSA in hoops season opener

POPLARVILLE Pearl River Wildcats opened their 2010-2011 basketball season in grand fashion here Monday in Shivers Gymnasium, topping the century mark with a dominating 116-75 blowout victory over Southern Sports Academy. PRCC, the defending MACJC state champions, improved to 1-0 with the lopsided win; while SSA, a Jackson-based prep school, dropped to 0-3. The Wildcats are ranked No. 25 in the NJCAA preseason Division I hoops poll. The visitors kept it close in the early going, but 6-foot-7 sophomore center Phillip Crawford out of Murphy High in Mobile, Ala., hit a bucket to give the Wildcats a double-digit 34-23 lead at the 7:55 mark of the first half and PRCC never looked back. Crawford basket tipped off a 31-9 Wildcat run to boost The River lead to 65-33 at the intermission. The Wildcats pumped their lead to 37 points 71-34 in the opening minutes of the second half, but SSA answered with a 25-12 scoring surge to pull to within 83-59 with just over 11 minutes left. Point guard Pedro Maciel, a sopohomore transfer from Centenary University in Shreveport, La., who prepped at St. Stanislaus; hit a trey with 6:35 remaining to make it 100-63. From that point, PRCC finished the game with a 16-12 scoring run with its 41-point lead marking its largest of the game. We didnt guard them exceptionally well, but as a whole we played pretty well considering it was our first game, said Wildcat head coach Richard Mathis, who enters his 20th season at PRCC. With all these first-year guys on board, weve still got a lot of work ahead of us, but Im confident well get the job done. Mathis boasts only three returning sophomores on his roster. From the field, Pearl River hit an impressive 61.4 percent (43 of 70), while SSA hit 49.1 percent (26 of 53). At the foul line, PRCC was 24 of 33 (72.7 percent), while SSA was 20 of 28 (71.4 percent). From three-point range, the Wildcats were six of 16 (37.5 percent), while the visitors were three of nine (33.3 percent). Emil Jones of North Forrest High paced Pearl River with 22 points (two treys, seven steals), including an impressive seven-for-seven effort at the foul line; while Kentari Nettles out of LeFlore High in Mobile and Daron Bell of Bay High 19 (three treys) added 21 and 19, respectively. Crawford scored 17, Nick Magee of Columbia High 15 (game-high seven rebounds), Calvin Johnson of Ridgeland High and LaBaron McMillian of Pascagoula High, six each; Maciel five, Vincent Gable of Picayune High three (three steals), and Marshun McGee out of Bailey High in Jackson two. Pearl River women tip off their season Thursday when they join the Wildcats in a road trip to Baton Rouge CC in Baton Rouge, La., for 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) contests before returning home to host MACJC non-division foe Holmes Monday, Nov. 8, for match ups at the same game times.

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