POPLARVILLE — Marvin R. White Coliseum was rocking Monday night in Poplarville when No. 20 Pearl River hosted William Carey's junior varsity. The only catch was it probably took an extra 13 minutes to get there.
Coach Chris Oney's squad still won 95-60, but it took until the final minutes of the first half for his Wildcats' play to reflect their preseason expectations.
"Well they came out in zone and we have not really worked on zone much this year, that is good for us because two of the teams we play next week run zone a lot," Oney said. "It was not exactly what everybody paid to see but from a coaching standpoint we now have a lot of good things we can go back and look at."
The Wildcats' 95-point performance Monday was their lowest total through three games this season.
The Wildcats actually trailed for most of the first half until Brandon Rachal (Natchitoches, La.; Natichitoches Central) delivered a slashing layup down the lane with 5:02 remaining to push PRCC ahead 27-26. The big basket was in the midst of a 12-0 run that helped PRCC build a 40-33 halftime advantage.
The LSU transfer ended up leading PRCC with 17 points on 46 percent shooting from the floor. He added four assists, four rebounds and three steals.
"Brandon will always have a big game because he affects the games in so many ways and that is a lot of stuff that does not show up in the stats," Oney said. "Every night we can have a conversation about the great game Brandon has without looking at the numbers."
The start of the second half really saw the crowd come alive as PRCC used a 19-0 run to push ahead 59-33. A handful of the points were a direct result of the Wildcats' defensive pressure, getting out and running the court — and even a couple flashy finishes; like Rachal's dunk off of a pass from Jonas James III (Jackson; Murrah).
"It came out that he is second in the country in assists," Oney said of James, who added another eight assists and 10 points to his totals Monday. "It makes me proud because last year I told him to watch a whole lot of film of Rajon Rondo because that is what I wanted him to be for us.
"When he shares the ball and has one on one matchups he is hard to defend."
Ten Wildcats found their way onto the score sheet with seven registering double-digit totals.
Behind Rachal's 17-point display, Kelvin Allen (Olive Branch) had a breakout performance, scoring 16 points on 88 percent shooting.
"Kelvin Allen was a 1,000-point scorer in high school and played with D.J. Jeffries, who is a top 20 national player so you know he can score," Oney said. "He is still just trying to find his groove and see where he fits with this team because we have so many guys that can score on the court, he is another added weapon."
BACK IN ACTION
The Wildcats are back in action Thursday against Louisiana Christian Prep. Tip at Marvin R. White Coliseum is set for 7 p.m.