No. 16 Pearl River hits rough patch in MACCC semifinal
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 16 Pearl River men's basketball team was unable to overcome a tough night from the field in Wednesday's MACCC semifinal game, falling to No. 4 seed East Mississippi 57-51 inside Marvin R. White Coliseum.
"The energy yesterday was off the charts, so I was a little worried about our energy today," head coach Chris Oney said.
"I thought we were there mentally. We played hard, but our ball screen coverage was horrible. It was just one of those things that happens this time of the year. I'm proud that we gave ourselves a chance to win in the end. This will serve as a lesson that we will take into next week.
FIRST HALF Back-and-forth was the theme of the entire first half of play.
East Mississippi (19-6) took an early 5-0 lead before Pearl River (20-3) got on the board. Earl Smith, Jr (Jackson; Lanier) drove down the wing before sending a defender by with a crossover. The guard then stepped back beyond the arc and drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 5-3.
After Smith went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line, Dylan Brumfield (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) drove inside, hit a spin move and laid it up and in to give Pearl River its first lead of the night 6-5.
The Lions retook the lead for a moment, but layups from Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi) and Brumfield put Pearl River right back on top 10-7.
The pair of teams of teams found themselves in a 12-12 tie soon after, but Carlous Williams (Hattiesburg; West Harrison) received a pass in the corner from Brumfield and knocked down a 3-pointer to go ahead 15-12.
Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) then got the Pearl River crowd on its feet. Brown tracked down a loose ball, dashed down the court and lobbed it up to him for a slam and 17-12 lead.
Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) finished the night with 14 points in Pearl River's 57-51 loss to East Mississippi in the MACCC semifinals Wednesday night inside Marvin R. White Coliseum. (Courtney Crosby/PRCC Athletics)
EMCC fought back to take a 19-18 lead a few minutes later, but J.D. Allen (Brookhaven; Wesson) helped the Wildcats take it right back by knocking down his first 3-pointer of the night, going ahead 21-19.
The Lions took the lead once again on a 3-pointer from the wing, but Brown was fouled on a layup and converted the and-one opportunity to make the score 24-22 Pearl River.
After another tie, Jariyon Wilkens converted a layup to put the Wildcats right back on top, 26-24.
The teams continued to battle, but the Lions carried a 31-29 lead into the halftime break.
SECOND HALF The Wildcats opened the second half with a Brown 3-pointer to go back on top 32-31.
A few minutes later, EMCC grabbed the lead once again by going 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, going ahead 33-32.
PRCC took the lead right back 34-33 on an Ankerion Gross (Sardis; North Panola) layup.
The teams continued to trade blows until EMCC extended its lead out to 44-38.
The Lions then continued to find baskets, extending their lead to 55-48.
Jariyon Wilkens was able to get an offensive rebound, score a basket and convert an and-one attempt to cut the deficit to four points at 55-51, but EMCC was able to stop the last few offensive possessions and claim the game 57-51.
BY THE NUMBERS Jariyon Wilkens was the only player who scored in double figures with 14 points. He also led the way in rebounds with seven. Smith and Brumfield tied for the team lead in assists with four.
NEXT UP Pearl River now turns its attention to the Region 23 Tournament. The Wildcats will host the first-round game, but matchups and start times have not been finalized.
TUNE IN All home Pearl River basketball games are livestreamed for free at PRCCMedia.com/gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from their app stores.
Games can also be heard on WRJW 1320-AM, 106.9 FM and WRJWRadio.com.