POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 12 Pearl River ran out of time in its rally attempt Thursday against Gulf Coast. The Wildcats methodically climbed back from an early deficit but were unable to complete the comeback, falling at Marvin R. White Coliseum 65-62.
With the loss, Pearl River enters into a three-way tie for the South's title with MGCCC and Jones College; the Wildcats have already split with MGCCC and JC.
The Wildcats (19-2, 10-2) took their first lead of the contest at 60-59 with 1:50 to play when Eric Thornton Jr. (Canton; Murrah) slashed through the lane and somehow managed to keep possession and score. The score came one possession after Jonas James III (Jackson; Murrah) also scored on an athletic layup down the lane and capped a quick 6-2 run.
The Bulldogs made 6 of 7 free throw attempts in the final 35 seconds to keep their distance.
PRCC raced the distance of the court in the final 3.5 seconds of the contest to set up Cedric Brim Jr. (Tupelo; Shannon) for one last attempt, but the shot hit off the iron.
The game was comprised of plenty of runs by both teams. Gulf Coast (18-3, 10-2) led 12-4 early but a 3-pointer by Kelvin Allen (Olive Branch) and free throws by James and Brandon Rachal (Natchitoches, La.; Natchitoches Central) pulled PRCC within one, 12-11. Following another run by MGCCC, more free throws by James and Rachal, and a fastbreak reverse layup by Brim once again pulled the Wildcats within one, 18-17.
The two teams traded shots the remainder of the first half with the visitors holding a narrow 32-30 lead.
The second half was more of the same for the two teams, with Gulf Coast jumping ahead before Pearl River pieced together runs of its own.
Back-to-back 3s by Allen and LaGarious White (Ridgeland; Brandon) and a Rachal layup through traffic — plus a drive by Allen — helped set up the final two minutes.
Three Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Rachal's 15. Allen and Brim and added 14 and 10 respectively. Thornton wasn't far behind with nine. Rachal also led PRCC with 16 rebounds. James' four assists were a team-high.
Pearl River will travel to Southwest next Monday before hosting Meridian on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The MCC game will serve as Sophomore Night. The games can be seen on PRCCAthletics.comand heard on WRJW 1320 AM. Anyone with a Roku or Amazon Fire devices can stream home games by downloading the "Pearl River C.C." channel from the app store.