No. 10 Pearl River closes out Thanksgiving Classic with win over Coahoma
Richard Gleber - PRCC Sports Media
BOONEVILLE, Miss. – The No. 10 Pearl River women's basketball team concluded the Northeast Thanksgiving Classic on the Northeast Mississippi Community College campus Tuesday with a dominant 71-43 victory over in-state foe Coahoma.
Sophomore Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Cleveland, Ohio; Charles F. Brush) was kept out of the scoring column in the first half but put on a scoring clinic in the second, pouring in 24 points to lead all Wildcats.
"Our offensive rhythm was really good, we moved the ball well and took quality shots," PRCC head coach Scotty Fletcher said. "Our defense created some offense. I am so proud of our defensive play.
"We are learning how to play the right way. Our team discipline is getting a lot better, every day, every rep."
Coahoma (4-1) scored first, knocking down a 3-pointer after a Pearl River (7-0) miss. Alexis Arrington (Terry) quickly answered with two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the basket. Arrington created a steal near midcourt on the ensuing possession, drove through the lane, and laid the ball in for a basket, 4-3.
On the Wildcats next possession, Avery Young (Iota) kicked the ball out to Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia, Miss.; Neshoba Central) on the wing; Fielder sunk a 3-pointer giving PRCC a 7-3 lead.
Mikayla Riley (Tupelo) gave PRCC a six-point lead, 12-6, hitting a 3-pointer from the left wing. Following a Tiger basket, Marley Freeman (Brandon) extended the Wildcat lead to seven with a 3-pointer from the right side, 15-8. Riley added two more points with a turnaround jumper in the lane, pushing the PRCC advantage to nine, 17-8.
Kamren Edwards (Jackson; Murrah) closed out the quarter with a short jumper, 21-11. Edwards's shot was set up by Tiir Nyok (High Point, N.C.; Southwest Guilford), who secured a defensive rebound, fought through the Tiger defense, and hit a streaking Edwards with a perfect pass.
Arrington opened the second quarter with a drive from the right corner and a nice left-handed layup to give the Wildcats an 11-point lead, 23-12. After Coahoma laid in a shot off the glass, Fielder hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, pushing the lead to 12, 26-14.
PRCC continued to apply defensive pressure to the Tigers. Following Fielder's 3-pointer, the Wildcat defense forced a Coahoma turnover. Riley, off an assist by Young, hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, 28-14.
Edwards followed Riley's basket on the defensive end, creating a Coahoma turnover deep in Tiger territory. Edwards controlled the ball, drove the length of the court, and was fouled on a layup attempt. Edwards made the backend of two free throws, giving the Wildcats a 15-point advantage, 29-14, and forcing Coahoma into a timeout with 3:58 left in the half. Fielder knocked down her third 3-pointer of the half to push the Wildcat lead to 32-14.
Both teams traded buckets to close out the half. Riley put in a layup coming out of a PRCC timeout, and Coahoma knocked down a 3-pointer.
The Wildcats headed to the locker room with a 34-17 advantage.
Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Photo credit: Sultan Seales)
Pearl River opened the second half with the hot hand with an 11-0 run. Johnson-Matthews opened the half with a 3-pointer from the right corner. After a Coahoma turnover, Fielder knocked down a three from almost the exact spot as Johnson-Matthews, 40-17. Johsnon-Matthews scored the next five points, a three from the left wing and a putback under the basket, 45-17.
With the score 49-23, Fielder hauled in a long rebound off a PRCC miss. Fielder found Young, who quickly dished the ball to Johnson-Matthews, who scored on a short jump shot in the lane, 49-23.
Coahoma closed the quarter with a 3-pointer and reduced the Wildcat lead to 49-26.
Freeman opened the scoring for the Wildcats with a drive under the basket, laying the ball in for two, 51-29.
Johnson-Matthews took over for the Wildcats, scoring PRCC's next six points. Johnson-Matthews's scoring spree was highlighted by a drive from the top of the arc past multiple Coahoma defenders for a layup, 57-33.
After a Coahoma basket, Johnson-Matthews scored The River's next four points. Johnson-Matthews had a drive and layup on the Coahoma defense's right side, followed by a layup off a long pass by Young over a Tiger defender, 61-35.
Roge'Ne' Hillard (Hazlehurst; Copiah Academy) made her presence felt, scoring on a putback of a Wildcat miss, followed by a strong move in the lane culminating in a layin off the glass, 65-39.
Two defensive steals led to Wildcat baskets by Johnson-Matthews and Riley in the game's closing minutes, 69-41.
Samya Brooks (Pontotoc) added the Wildcats final two points of the game, and the Wildcats closed out the tournament with a 71-41 victory over Coahoma.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pearl River had three Wildcats score in double-digits.
Johnson-Matthews, who led all Wildcat scorers, had a dominating second half, scoring all of her 24 points after the intermission. The 24 points is Johnson-Matthews second highest performance of the season.
"Taylor's court awareness is by far the best I have ever coached," Fletcher commented. "Her ability to get lower with the ball and make plays, not only for herself but her teammates. She is a very unselfish player."
Fielder added 12 points for the Wildcats, and Riley contributed 11.
"Hama'ya has been remarkable with her shooting presence; the girls do a good job of finding her," Fletcher said. "I think the X factor continues to be Mikayla Riley, just her ability to score inside and outside. She is a big guard who can rebound extremely well."