POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River's Marvin R. White Coliseum has been no stranger to championship teams in the past. Most recently, the PRCC men's basketball team has claimed the 2017 MACJC Championship and 2018 Region XXIII Title while turning White Coliseum into a major homecourt advantage.
Now a different level of hoopsters will make their way through PRCC's gymnasium en route for a title as the Mississippi High Schools Activities Association announced Friday there will be new sites for the annual state basketball tournament.
White Coliseum made the cut and will split the South's boy's and girl's quarterfinals with the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi. PRCC will host 1A, 3A and 5A classifications, with Biloxi getting 2A, 4A and 6A.
The first two rounds will be played at the respective high schools, with Itawamba and Mississippi Valley landing the North's quarterfinal matchups. All semifinal games will be played at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, with the championships landing at Ole Miss. Future sites will be dependent on facility availability.
The new sites were approved by the MHSAA's 15-member executive committee during Thursday's meeting.
"We're excited about all of our venues, having moved to some different locations at universities and community colleges," MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said. "We did that in football, volleyball and softball, so now we're looking to do it in basketball as well.
"We understand (White Coliseum) is a very, very nice facility, a beautiful campus and for us it is a perfect site. We're very excited about Pearl River hosting the quarterfinals. … This move will give our deep South Mississippi teams an opportunity to play closer to home at a neutral court."
Pearl River Athletics Director Jeff Long said this is a perfect opportunity for the Wildcats to show off all of the school's continued upgrades to a new group of fans.
"We're incredibly honored the MHSAA has chosen Pearl River as one of the few sites worthy of hosting the prestigious State Tournament," he said. "We take great pride in our facilities and campus and look forward to having all of the players and their families in Poplarville for this event."
Pearl River women's basketball coach Scotty Fletcher is equally excited about the recent news.
"I am beyond excited that we get an opportunity to host Mississippi high school men's and women's basketball on our campus as the student athletes embark on their journey to win a 'Golden Ball,'" he said. "Growing up in this great state, I shared the same goals that all basketball players had which were to be named to the Dandy Dozen list and play in Jackson for a 'Golden ball.' I am elated the MHSAA is allowing our young athletes the same privilege to play at our state institutions like football does. We have been blessed with a beautiful Coliseum and our campus is growing at a rapid pace due to our elite administration.
"This is a win-win for Pearl River and we hope we can provide a first class experience for the players, coaches and families who participate and attend."
The quarterfinal round is scheduled for Feb. 27-29.