POPLARVILLE, Miss. (PRCC Athletics) - The nationally ranked No. 4 Pearl River Wildcats men’s basketball team opened up their season Monday night with a dominating win over MACCC South division foe East Central, defeating the Warriors 109-63. The Wildcats (1-0 overall; 1-0 MACCC) went back and forth with the Warriors for the first few minutes of the game before exploding halfway through the half to take a crushing 53-18 lead over the Warriors (0-1; 0-1).
The Wildcats have now won 29 straight games dating back to their unprecedented 28-0 record a year ago.
“I think we had to shake the rust off a little bit for the first few minutes,” PRCC coach Chris Oney said. “I think the guys were jumping at the bit to play a real game finally. Once we settled in we started to make plays and we took it from there.”
The Wildcats didn’t let up in the second half, continuing to keep their distance from the Warriors.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Wildcats scored in bunches with an astounding seven players score in double digits.
“Everybody on our roster can help us win the game,” Oney said. “We don’t really try to get into who’s all starting and all that. We know we have 10 guys who can all help us win.”
Joe Cooper (Olive Branch) led PRCC with 18 points.
“I think it was his first time in a real game in a while. I thought he did really well,” Oney said. “He’s a hard worker. He wants to get better constantly.”
Cooper was followed by Earl Smith (Jackson; Lanier) who scored 14 points on the night.
“Earl played like a sophomore that was coming back from a team that didn’t lose a game,” Oney joked.
Jarron Wilkins (Biloxi) finished third on the Wildcats with 12 points. Dannie Smith (Chicago, Ill.; Orr) and Ankerion Gross (Sardis; North Panola) were both tied for fourth on the team with 11 points each while Jaryion Wilkins (Biloxi) and Cameron Brown (Hattiesburg) both had 10 points. Ja’quan Ewing (Clarksville, Tenn.; Kenwood) led the team in rebounds with seven.
CLIMBING THE RANKINGS
The latest NJCAA rankings were released Monday afternoon, with the Wildcats climbing up the poll despite not debuting until Monday. Thanks to a loss ahead of them, PRCC climbed one spot to No. 4 in the latest ranking.
The Wildcats hold their home opener this Thursday when they take on arch rival Jones College at Marvin R. White Coliseum at 6 p.m.
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.
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