ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) _ Pearl River Community Coach Chris Oney had a pretty good idea what kind of basketball game his high-flying, high-scoring Wildcats would be in for Monday night.
And the first act of the 2020 "Catfight” with archrival Jones College was every bit the rock ‘em, sock ‘em, back-and-forth scrap that wasn’t decided until 3.5 seconds remained and PRCC guard Tae Hardy’s two free throws sealed a 59-55 victory for the Wildcats at A.B. Howard Gymnasium.
Fifth-ranked PRCC (11-0, 3-0 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges) came into the game having scored at least 100 points in half of its games, averaging 99-plus points per outing.
“Yes, we’ve scored a lot of points, but I knew that 99-points-a-game junk was going to go out the window sooner or later,” Oney said. “They slowed the game down, but I was proud of the way they hung in there and found a way to make the plays to win the game.”
Jones (9-2, 1-2) gave the Wildcats all they could handle in a game that featured 10 lead changes and nine ties. No team led by more than five points the entire night.
“We’re getting there,” Jones College coach Randy Bolden said. “I was pleased with the effort but down the stretch, we have to be better with our execution.
“They’re a good team, and when you’re playing a good team like that, you can’t have missed assignments, (not) blocking out. We had a couple miscues, gave them second chances.”
PRCC led by as many as five in a see-saw first half and was up 23-20 before Jones went on 7-2 run, capped by a follow-up slam dunk by sophomore forward Zachariah Malone and a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Sayveon Bumpers, to grab a 27-25 lead with 3:02 to play.
But the Wildcats closed the half on a 6-0 spurt.
PRCC freshman guard Jaronn Wilkens scored a low-post basket, was fouled and made the free throw for a three-point play and freshman guard Kolby Moore closed out the half with his only bucket of the game, a 3-pointer that left the Wildcats up 31-27 at halftime.
The teams continued to go back and forth in the second half.
Jones broke a 42-42 tie by knocking down 3-of-4 free throws allocated for a personal foul followed by a technical.
“I was disappointed with our mannerisms,” Oney said. “We’re a team that’s ranked among the top five in the country and we’re complaining about calls, got that technical. That’s what I was most disappointed in.”
PRCC quickly tied the game on a basket in the paint by sophomore forward Rodgerick Brown and a free throw from Wilkens with 9:07 to play.
The teams spent the next 2 ½ minutes watching Jones take a two-point lead only to see the Wildcats tie until PRCC strung together three scores in a 7-0 run.
Sophomore forward Cameron Smith popped a jumper in the lane to tie the game 49-49. Jones lost control of the ball on a slip in the paint on its possession, leading to a breakaway dunk by Smith.
A PRCC blocked shot set up a turnover on a shot-clock violation on the Bobcats’ next possession, and Hardy cashed in a three-point play on the other end for a 54-49 PRCC lead with 4:21 to play.
But Jones declined to go away, and got back within a point when sophomore guard Casey Smith Jr. banked home a basket and sophomore guard Kenneth Rogers sank a pair of free throws.
Cameron Smith gave PRCC a 56-53 lead on a follow bucket, but Casey Smith got the Bobcats back within one, 56-55, on a jumper left in the game with 1:47.
Freshman guard Earl Smith made a free throw to bump PRCC’s lead back to two points. Both teams missed scoring opportunities down the stretch before Hardy blocked a Bumpers’ floater that could have tied the game with less than 10 seconds to play.
Hardy then hit his clinching free throws to keep the Wildcats unbeaten.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Wilkens said. “It’s always a dogfight. They played us pretty tough, and we didn’t execute as well as we should have.”
Especially from the free-throw line, where PRCC made just half of its foul shots (16 of 32).
Cameron Smith was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 13 points, and posted a double-double with 10 rebounds. Wilkens had nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore forward Isaih Moore finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while sophomore guard Kelvin Allen, Hardy and Brown scored seven points each.
Jones got a game-high 14 points and seven rebounds from SharDarrion Allen and Casey Smith added 10 and three assists. Rogers and Malone eight points and five rebounds each and Bumpers finished with eight points.
The Wildcats will welcome Hinds Community College to Poplarville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Bulldogs (8-2, 3-0) extended their winning streak to five games Thursday with a 85-70 win over Meridian Community College after handing Jones its first loss of the season last week.
“We’ve got Hinds on Thursday and that’s going to be a good game, too,” Cameron Smith said. “Hinds beat those guys by like 15, so we’ve got to be better.”
Jones will travel to Decatur to take on East Central Community College (6-6, 1-2) at 7:30 Thursday. The Warriors defeated Copiah-Lincoln 73-71 on a buzzer-beater Thursday.
ELLISVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) _ Jones College got off to a slow start, but then overwhelmed its guests over the final two quarters.
The 11th-ranked Lady Bobcats led just 19-17 after a quarter and held a six-point lead, 30-24, at halftime.
But Jones (9-2, 3-0 MACJC) outscored the Lady Wildcats (7-4, 1-2) by 15 points over the third and fourth quarters, 45-30, to log their third consecutive win.
Sophomore guard Keyara Jones led the Lady Bobcats with a game-high 18 points, three assists and two steals. Sophomore forward LaMiracle Sims posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Chyna Allen finished with 12 points and five assists, while freshman forward Ebony Gayden added nine points and seven rebounds.
PRCC got 17 points from sophomore guard Alanna Smith. Sophomore guard Mychala Linzy added 11 points and sophomore forward Shania Wright had nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Lady Bobcats will travel to Decatur to take on East Central Community College (6-6, 1-2) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Lady Wildcats will welcome Hinds Community College to Poplarville at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs (2-7, 0-2) have dropped five consecutive games.