POPLARVILLE — Some wins just mean more than others and Monday's was a big one for the Pearl River women's basketball program.
The Lady Wildcats have experienced both ends of the emotional pendulum in a matter of days. Fresh off of Saturday's draining road loss, coach Scotty Fletcher took a play out of the playbook of his former boss, William Carey's Steve Knight, and gave his players a day off. The day away from the court must have worked because PRCC never trailed Monday as it held on late to defeat Copiah-Lincoln 57-54 at Marvin R. White Coliseum.
Not only was the decision Co-Lin's first loss of the year, but it sent the Lady Wildcats into an emotional frenzy.
After the final seconds disappeared from the clock, PRCC spilled onto the court in celebration. Even Fletcher got caught up in the moment. As the Lady Wildcats mobbed one another on the court, Fletcher disappeared into the plaid-and-camo student section — comprised mostly of PRCC's baseball and softball players.
"Our girls were extremely disappointed (after Saturday's loss)," Fletcher told Wildcat play-by-play man Carey Meitzler before his voice trailed off as he tried to compose himself. "You get a little emotional."
The win may have added some gray hairs to Fletcher's head as the Lady Wildcats (5-1; 1-0 MACJC) scored just two points in the final 3:46 Monday, but when the Lady Wildcats needed to, they found a way to make a big play.
Fletcher lauded Gabby Brown (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Choctaw), Elexis Peyton (Jackson; Provine) for exuding enough leadership and presence to help the Lady Wildcats maneuver through the final minutes of Monday's MACJC opener.
"I was so proud of our girls," he said. "Our bench energy stayed good. Our girls could have broken, but to show poise with 13 freshmen, that gives us something to grow on."
OFF AND RUNNING
While the Lady Wildcats never trailed Monday, Co-Lin (7-1, 0-1) was never far behind. A late 3-pointer from Brown helped put PRCC ahead 18-16 after the first quarter and the Lady Wildcats did just enough to take a 27-25 lead into halftime.
PRCC's first three baskets out of the break were all 3s as PRCC pulled ahead of Co-Lin 36-29.
Co-Lin began chipping away at PRCC's advantage, however, and utilized a 9-0 run to pull within three at 57-54. The Lady Wolves had several looks in the final 45 seconds, but PRCC dug out rebounds off the misses to survive with the three-point victory.
"Our defense was the reason we won the game," Fletcher said. "Co-Lin gets up and down the floor but we didn't give up many transition buckets. I thought that was key.
"We had to get stops and we did."
Mosley continues to lead PRCC's offense. The freshman scored 19 points on 7 of 15 shooting from the floor. She also pulled in seven rebounds.
"Olivia Mosley was absolutely remarkable tonight," Fletcher said. "That's her game."
Brown hit double digits for the third time in four games, netting a season-high 14 points. Mychala "Pooh" Linzy finished with nine points, three assists and three steals to round out PRCC's offensive leaders.
Peyton topped PRCC with 10 rebounds. Monroe added eight.
The Lady Wildcats aren't quite done in 2018. They travel to Northwest Florida in Niceville, Florida, on Friday and Saturday to play Gadsden State and ASA College (Miami).
PRCC will hit the court running after winter break, traveling to Delgado on Jan. 8 and East Central on Jan. 10 before hosting archrival Jones College at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14.