POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Friday brought more good news for the Pearl River basketball programs.
Despite topping Meridian on Sophomore Night on Thursday, the Lady Wildcats were told they needed to wait to celebrate their postseason berth as there was a disagreement with how the league's tiebreaker rules should be interpreted.
After deliberating for nearly two hours early Friday afternoon, the MACJC Athletic Council sided with the Lady Wildcats, awarding Scotty Fletcher's crew the four seed in next week's tournament at host Jones College.
For the Lady Wildcats, Friday's news — which coincided with the release of the men's and women's brackets — confirms they'll be in the post-season for the first time since the 2013-14 season. For the No. 16 men, they learned their opponent as they embark to defend their MACJC Title.
"To say we're ecstatic is an understatement because of the growth we've made in our four years," Fletcher said. "To have a chance to play in the postseason is what you work for in August. This team is very special. They're fun to coach, they're close and believe in the same core values that we preach daily.
"Anytime you see a group that's so committed you want to see them see the benefits and reap the fruits of their labor."
Fletcher thanked Athletics Director Jeff Long and President Dr. Adam Breerwood for their support throughout not only his tenure as coach but specifically the last 24 hours.
"I'm very honored, appreciative and thankful to work at such a fine institution and lead the women's basketball program," he said. "This program means a lot to me and I said that when I was hired; both personally and professionally.
"Dr. Breerwood and Jeff's vision for our athletic program has been second to none. I couldn't be more tickled for our team and also for them."
ITAWAMBA-PEARL RIVER WOMEN
Pearl River (16-7 overall, 9-5 MACJC) will open its postseason at 1 p.m. Monday against Itawamba (19-3, 11-1), which earned the top seed in the North. With the exception of a two-point loss to East Mississippi on Monday, the Lady Indians hadn't previously lost since November.
"They're incredibly talented obviously. They have really good guard play, led by Shaniyah Buford," Fletcher said. "We have a lot of respect for their coach and program. They're one of the top teams every year in the North, so we have a lot of respect for them."
The two teams are somewhat unfamiliar to one another as the last time they squared off was the opener of the 2013-14 postseason — a 63-52 PRCC victory.
The winner of Monday's game will play the winner of Copiah-Lincoln and East Mississippi at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
HOLMES-PEARL RIVER MEN
Pearl River (21-2, 12-2) has known for some time it was in the tournament, but the second-seeded Wildcats learned they'll play Holmes (15-8, 7-5) at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
"We're ready," Pearl River coach Chris Oney said. "Throughout the season we've been tested every which way you can be tested so we have learned a lot. We've persevered through it all.
Oney believes the team's program-best 18-game winning streak to open the season has prepared his Wildcats for another potential run in the tournament.
"The streak helped us because not only was it great for the program but it made us play with an edge," Oney said. "We got everybody's best punch and playoff time it will be no different."
Holmes went 3-3 in February, winning its season finale against ICC 75-51.
"They're a well coached team," Oney said. "They have some guys who played in the region championship game last year so they'll come in with experience."
The winner between PRCC and HCC will play the winner of East Mississippi and East Central at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Day 1 of the women's tournament Monday features ICC and PRCC at 1 p.m., Co-Lin and EMCC at 3 p.m., host Jones College and Mississippi Delta at 5:30 p.m. and Northeast vs. Gulf Coast at 7:30 p.m.
Day 1 of the men's tournament Tuesday features PRCC and Holmes at 1 p.m., EMCC and East Central at 3 p.m., JC and Delta at 5:30 p.m. and Northeast and Gulf Coast at 7:30 p.m.