POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 5 Pearl River kept two streaks alive Thursday night inside Marvin R. White Coliseum. Not only did Coach Chris Oney's Wildcats top visiting Copiah-Lincoln 77-63 to claim their 32nd straight win overall, but PRCC also extended its winning streak against the Wolves to 16.
The Wildcats (4-0 overall; 4-0 MACCC South) and Wolves (2-3; 1-3) duked it out early on Thursday.
It wasn't until the final minutes in the half when PRCC really pulled away.
Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) nailed a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats ahead 30-25. After a jumper from Joe Cooper (Olive Branch), Cameron Brown (Hattiesburg) brought the bench to its feet with a thunderous dunk.
Co-Lin hit a basket, but Cooper put the finishing touches on the half with a 3-pointer just seconds before the buzzer for a 37-27 lead.
"Whenever we can get out in transition and get a few easy ones that helps our points-per-possession," Oney said. "Not only that, but when you get a few of those and those guys look up at the clock and see we're up 8, 9, 10, that next 3-ball shot is a little more relaxed because there's not as much pressure."
The Wildcats really seemed to build on their momentum in the second half, building a 14-point lead at 46-32 early in the second.
After Brown had made back to back buckets to push PRCC ahead 43-32, Earl Smith (Jackson; Lanier) knocked down a 3-pointer that kissed off the front of the rim, bounced up and through the twine.
The Wolves went on a mini-run, pulling within five at 52-47, but the Wildcats clamped down from there.
Jariyon Wilkens scored on a dish from his brother to push PRCC's advantage to 54-47. After a slashing score from Smith, Jaronn Wilkens converted a free throw with 10 minutes left to give PRCC a 57-49 lead.
Jariyon Wilkens hit a 3 in the corner and perhaps the highlight of the game unfolded moments later.
Brown pickpocketed a Co-Lin guard at mid-court and flipped the ball to a near-by Cooper. The Olive Branch native dashed down the court in a two-on-one before dishing the ball to Jariyon Wilkens for a slam and 63-51 lead.
"That was huge," Oney said. "We call those back breakers. After we made that play I saw the look on their faces and felt a little bit better about the game."
LEADING THE WAY
Four Wildcats scored in double figures. Brown led the way with 21. Jariyon Wilkens earned his first double-double of the season, scoring 19 points with 10 rebounds. Jaronn Wilkens and Cooper each scored 14.
"I feel like we have enough to compete with anybody. There's not a bad player we can put on the floor," Oney said. "Every guy can help us compete and win a championship."
The Wildcats are back on the hardwood Monday at Hinds. PRCC returns to the Coliseum next Thursday to host rival Gulf Coast. Both games are set for 6 p.m. starts.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be general admission at home basketball games. Following guidelines set by the state of Mississippi, PRCC is limiting attendance to only players, coaches, spirit squads, the PRCC pep band, gameday personnel and family members. No Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference or Mississippi High School Activities Association passes will be accepted.
HOW TO TUNE IN
Most games will be broadcast at PRCCMedia.com/Gold but in some instances where multiple teams are at home, PRCC will also have a feed on its auxiliary channel at PRCCMedia.com/Maroon. Fans who have Roku or Amazon Fire devices can also watch the Wildcats on their televisions by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from their app store.
Home games will also be broadcast on WRJWRadio.com.