POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River women's basketball team shook off early rust in its 2021 debut Monday to surge past the visiting East Central Warriors 63-54 at Marvin R. White Coliseum.
"We always preach that if you give up 55 points or less you have a chance to win the game, and obviously we gave up 54," Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher said. "We gave up too much in the first half. We gave up too many easy buckets in transition and that's all we have worked on the last few weeks. We gave up some non-contested shots which led to some bank shot 3s. Our defense down the stretch, our zone was really good for us.
"I felt like we came out pressing and being too aggressive right off the jump. We talked about having the character and mental toughness and togetherness. I thought our bench energy was really, really good."
Because of the truncated schedule, Pearl River opened the season with a MACCC South Division opponent; and, as a result, is 1-0 in league play.
"This is the only time we have opened up league play 1-0. It is a daunting task. The chance to open division play in such a tough conference with a win is great," Fletcher said. "Jones is a tough team to beat on their homecourt. We will be ready, and we will scout them. Our girls get excited to play those guys, but the reality is you've got to be ready to play every game.
"I'm very proud of our girls."
The Wildcats (1-0) and Warriors (0-1) got off to a bit of a sluggish start as both teams were shaking loose the offseason rust.
Pearl River fell behind early but took a brief 11-9 lead on a 3-pointer from Keshunti Nichols (Pearl) late in the first quarter. A 12-point run by ECCC bridged the first two frames to give the visitors a 24-13 advantage.
PRCC proceeded to score 11 of the next 13 points to pull within one, 26-25. At one point the Wildcats scored nine straight thanks in large part to a 3-pointer from Otashae Burrage (Carthage; Leake County), but still trailed 28-25 at halftime.
The two sides traded buckets for the remainder of the third with ECCC holding a narrow 46-45 advantage going into the fourth.
The Wildcats really came alive in the fourth, outscoring the Warriors 18-8 in the frame.
Shavers converted an and-one and then ECCC scored to keep the game tied 48-48, but another 3-pointer from Burrage opened the flood gates as PRCC rattled off eight straight for a 56-50 lead.
A slashing left-handed layup in traffic from Scott and then a bucket from Bryanna Taylor off a smooth assist from TyMesha Reed (Meridian) gave PRCC its largest lead of the night at 60-50 with 3:21 left to play.
LEADING THE WAY
Three different Wildcats scored in double figures while another pulled in 10 rebounds. Reed had a game-high 15 points while Burrage and Nichols tied with 11 apiece.
"Ty did a phenomenal job and hasn't been able to practice. She just got cleared right before we went on break for 40 days. She played exceptionally well," Fletcher said. "She had poise about her. I coach everybody but the one position I'm going to coach the most is that point guard position. I thought she was critical tonight. Her dribble penetration was good.
"She had 15 points and went 6-of-7 from the field, crazy 3 at the end and made some free throws. Her play was outstanding."
Shavers was a force in the paint for her collegiate debut, pulling in 10 rebounds. Scott finished with a team-high six assists and four steals.
Pearl River returns to the hardwood Thursday with its first road test of the 2021 season. The Wildcats visit Jones College in Ellisville for a 6 p.m. start. The game will be broadcast on JCJC.TV.
HOW TO TUNE IN
Most home events 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 basketball games will also be broadcast on WRJWRadio.com.