WESSON Pearl River Community College hopes of a men MACJC championship repeat came up four points short here Thursday, as the Wildcats fell to arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast 64-61 in the state tournament title bout. MGCCC, which improved to 20-6 overall with the win, took its first men championship since 1999 with the victory; while PRCC, the defending state champ, dropped to 21-5. The contest was a wild one with 15 lead changes 12 in the first half alone while the score was tied 10 times, including six stalemates in the second half. After Dominik Major hit the opening basket, Troy University signee Emil Jones of North Forrest High answered with his first of three treys on the night to put the Wildcats up for the next four minutes before Raymond Cintron pulled off a three-point play at the 15:17 mark to knot things up at 9-9. Justin Childs followed with a bucket to give the Bulldogs a two-point edge. Three minutes later, Phillip Crawford out of Murphy High in Mobile, Ala., hit a jumper to snap a 13-13 stalemate and The River maintained its lead for the next two-and-a-half minutes until Ice Asortse sank a basket to give Gulf Coast a brief 20-19 edge with 8:15 left in the half. Jones answered with a bucket to put the Wildcats back up by one and Pearl River stayed in the lead for the next five minutes before back-to-back baskets by Marlon Williams gave MGCCC a 30-29 edge at the 2:35 mark. The lead exchanged hand four times during the remaining time with LeKendrick Evans slam dunk in the final seconds giving the Bulldogs a 34-33 lead at the intermission. Crawford three-point play to open the second half put PRCC up 36-34, but Evans immediately tied it up with a put back and Childs drilled a three to make it 39-36 with 17:45 left. The Wildcats tied it up three times over the next nine minutes before taking its last lead of the game when Marshun McGee out of Bailey Magnet High in Jackson pulled off a three-point play to put The River up 52-49 with 8:29 remaining. Cintron hit back-to-back treys propelled the Bulldogs back up 55-52 at the 6:41 mark before Jones three tied it for the last time, as Asortse basket less than a minute later gave Gulf Coast the lead for good. Pearl River managed to pull to within two points twice over the remaining time. Crawford paced the Wildcats with 27 points and 16 rebounds, both game-high totals, along with grabbing four steals; while Jones finished with 15, Daron Bell of Bay High nine (six steals), McGee six, and LaKendrick Maye of Prentiss High and Kentari Nettles out of LeFlore High in Mobile, two each. Cintron led the Bulldogs with 17 points (four treys, six rebounds, seven assists), while Williams scored 14, Childs nine (six rebounds, five assists), Asortse eight (15 rebounds), Evans six and Guy Payne, six each; and Jeffrey Simmons four. Pearl River hit 48.1 percent (25 of 52) from the field to Gulf Coast 47.4 percent (27 of 57), while the Wildcats were three of 13 (23.1 percent) from three-point range to the Bulldogs five-of-19 (26.3 percent) effort. PRCC was eight of 20 (40 percent) at the foul line, while MGCCC was five of 19 (67.5 percent). The Bulldogs had the edge in rebounding with 39 boards (16 offensive, 23 defensive) to the Wildcats 33 (12 offensive, 21 defensive). In the women championship game, South No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln defeated South No. 2 Jones County 85-77.
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