POPLARVILLE, Miss. (PRCC Athletics) - The No. 9 Pearl River men’s basketball team cruised to victory in its road contest against rival Gulf Coast on Monday, winning 78-49. The win marked head coach Chris Oney’s 100th win at the helm of Wildcat basketball. Following the lopsided win, Oney downplayed the milestone and was already looking ahead.
“I was just hoping I wouldn’t get fired (that first season), and now you look up and I’ve won 100 of them,” Oney said. “I’m excited about it, but we are going to celebrate it for 24 hours and move on.”
The first half was a highly contested affair. Pearl River (9-1 overall; 9-1 MACCC South) got the scoring started when Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi) was fouled and sank both free throws. Gulf Coast (6-9; 4-9) quickly responded hitting a 3-pointer to go ahead, 3-2. The teams traded punches before Ankerion Gross (Sardis; North Panola) hit from beyond the arc to stretch the Wildcat lead to five points at 14-9. Pearl River held the lead for a while longer, but the Bulldogs went on a 15-10 run to push back ahead of the Wildcats 27-24. A trio of baskets by J’Quan Ewing (Clarksville, Tenn.; Kenwood) late in the first half put Pearl River ahead going into the break, 30-27.
Pearl River came out of the gate on fire in the second half. The first points of the second frame came from Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) as he drained a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 33-27 advantage. Cameron Brown (Hattiesburg) added six more points to the Wildcat total by hitting a 3-pointer and then converting an old-fashioned 3-pointer to extend the Wildcat lead to 39-29. Pearl River pushed its lead out to 13 points later in the contest after a pair of putbacks by KeDarius Stampley (Fayette; Natchez) gave them a 50-37 lead. The Wildcats continued to barrel through the Bulldogs as Earl Smith (Jackson; Lanier) tossed a ball up to Jaronn Wilkens for the alley-oop slam pushing the Wildcat lead to 63-41. His brother, Jariyon Wilkens, got in on the alley-oop action when two straight lobs from Joe Cooper (Olive Branch) were thrown down to extend the Pearl River lead to 72-47. The Wildcats went on to win the contest 78-49.