POPLARVILLE — Coach Scotty Fletcher prides himself in being a defense-first coach with a stingy, “nasty” team that teams hate to face.
On Monday, his Pearl River Lady Wildcats got offensive — in a big way.
Pearl River toppled visiting Coastal Alabama-North 99-68 inside Marvin R. White Coliseum, scoring the most points in Fletcher’s four-year tenure.
“To score 99 and to shoot the ball as well as we did after not shooting the ball well (earlier in the year) was big,” Fletcher said.
The Lady Wildcats (3-0) haven’t been particularly dangerous from distance early in the 2018-19 season. There were stretches Monday, however, where it seemed like they couldn’t miss — as their 48 percent shooting from 3-point range would suggest.
“We circled 12.5 percent, which is what we shot our first game here from 3,” Fletcher said. “I told them we had to be knock down shooters and have our feet set, and we did.”
Jakia Harper--pictured left-- (Jackson; Provine) and Maliyah Bullard (Pass Christian) were particularly dangerous from long range. The two combined to make 9 of 15 3-pointers and finished with 24 and 16 points respectively.
“I thought we did a really good job of finding Jakia Harper. We are lucky to have her. She has a different poise about her. She probably has the best basketball IQ on the team,” Fletcher said. “As for Maliyah Bullard, she didn’t start the game like I wanted her to with that dog mentality, but once she got going she got going.”
PRCC shot 55 percent from the floor and once again had a number of players in double figures. Elexis Peyton (Jackson; Provine) was second on the team with 18 points, while Gabby Brown (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Choctaw) added a season-high 12 points.
“Elexis Peyton has a different demeanor. It was a close game there in the first half and every time they made a run, she helped us and made a big bucket. She was just exhausted. Played extended minutes in the first half,” Fletcher said. “I thought Gabby also continues to improve.”
PRCC opened the game on an 11-1 run, with five different players scoring. The Lady Eagles (3-3) eventually tied the game 13-13 with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter, but PRCC began to pull away and took a 48-34 lead into halftime.
The Lady Wildcats opened the second half on a 16-4 run and the Lady Eagles never got within striking distance again.
Even with the win, Fletcher still saw plenty to fix.
“Our goal tonight was for them to score 45. I’m not pleased — even though we won big — with our defense. That has got to be our DNA. I challenged our girls to take two charges and we took four tonight,” he said. “We have to be a nasty team in terms of how we get after it.
“While we won tonight and it looks good and our crowd got into it and we made a few shots, we have to tighten up our defense.”
Olivia Mosley (Pearl) led PRCC on the glass with 10 rebounds. Peyton was second on the team with five. Bullard had a team-high five assists. Dywana Parker (Gulfport), Pooh Linzy (Clinton) and Harper each had three.
The Lady Wildcats have a lengthy layoff before hosting Bishop State on Nov. 29.
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