The Marvin R. White Coliseum in Poplarville felt like summer inside, as the basketball court was hot from intensity in the Wildcat Classic Monday evening. With a late surge, the Pearl River Community College (PRCC) Lady Wildcats toppled the East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) Lady Lions 61-57 in the tournament.
“I said in the pregame East Mississippi is good,” said PRCC Women’s Head Coach Scotty Fletcher. “You saw tonight how tough this league is.” The Lady Wildcats (3-1 overall) handed EMCC (4-1) its first loss of the season and the game lived up to the billing as neither team was allowed to create much breathing room from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
The two teams largely traded baskets for the remainder of the frame with PRCC edging ahead 17-14 at the first break.
The second quarter was much the same. PRCC built a 24-18 advantage on a layup and Maliyah Bullard (Pass Christian) 3-pointer but EMCC went on a run of its own, pulling ahead 25-24 for its first lead of the game with 3:30 remaining in the half.
The third quarter played out much like the previous two with PRCC holding the largest lead — 48-41— following a 10-3 run. PRCC led 50-46 going into the final frame, but EMCC made seven unanswered points to pull ahead 53-50.
Coupled with improved defensive play from the Wildcats down the stretch, PRCC put together a late run to secure the victory.
“We certainly take pride in our defense,” as Coach Fletcher expressed to The Gazebo Gazette. “Our experienced girls have done a great job of having faster pace and stopping other teams in transition.”
One of those experienced girls is Bullard, a Pass Christian High School Alum, that has averaged 12 points in the Lady Wildcats first few games and earned some accolades already.
“College basketball is a lot faster with a lot of energy,” said Bullard to The Gazebo Gazette. “My strength in shooting has improved, as well as my defense.” Bullard finished the victory with six points, including two 3-point baskets.
In speaking with a less experienced player, Alannah Turner from West Harrison High School stated an improvement in basketball knowledge at the collegiate level. “My basketball IQ is better and learning control is different.” Turner contributed on defense and had a few assists from the point guard position in the Lady Wildcats win.
The PRCC men, who are ranked #10 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll, dominated the Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) Bears 104-57 behind contributions from the Wilkens brothers and Dontavious Proby from Biloxi.
To finish the tournament, the PRCC men will close out the Wildcat Classic at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with a showdown against LSU-Eunice.
The PRCC women won’t be back in action until Dec. 6 when they host Gadsden State at 5:30 p.m.