No. 17 seed Pearl River set to take on Moberly Area in NJCAA Tournament
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — After earning the right to compete in the NJCAA Tournament less than 24 hours ago, the Pearl River basketball team now knows its seed and first opponent. The Wildcats were named the No. 17 seed in the 24-team tournament and will take on Moberly Area at 10 a.m. on March 14.
The tournament is set to run from March 14-19 and will take place at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.
"Every year when you start the year, you're playing for the opportunity to play for a national championship," head coach Chris Oney said. "To do that, you have to have a great year. I think that we check both boxes as far as that goes. It's been a great year to this point, and we get a chance to stay alive and play for a national championship. "
Before the season began, Oney set out to remind people "We are Pearl River basketball".
"I think they remember now," he said. "The year before was just a crazy year with us starting in January and we had a few kids who got hurt. We finished the season with seven guys, and we were still 12-2. We were just a couple of plays away from being in this position last year and to come back this year with three teams in Region 23 ranked and we weren't mentioned was the added fuel that we needed to make this run."
Upon the announcement of the seeding, the Wildcats knew they were ready to go to work.
"We still got three guys on the team that went 28-0 and had the number one seed," Oney said. "Anything less than the number one seed to them is a slap in the face. As a coach, it's gratifying that they're not satisfied. They're ready to get back to practice and show people what they can do."
ABOUT THE WILDCATS The Wildcats opened the year by going 4-2, but then it seemed a switch flipped. PRCC then rattled off an impressive 20-1 run to finish of the year with a 24-3 record and an MACCC regular season championship. Pearl River continued its success over to the Region 23 tournament, taking home the title for the third time in four seasons.
PRCC is the second-best defensive team in the country this season, holding opponents to an incredible 56.5 points per game. The Wildcats are also the number one team in the nation when it comes to opponent field goal percentage, making teams shoot 35.6 percent from the field.
Pearl River is led by sophomore forward Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi) who is averaging 12.4 ppg. He is also bringing in a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game. Cameron Brown is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.9 points.
Earl Smith, Jr (Jackson; Lanier) has found the right passes all year long, assisting 4.5 times per game.
ABOUT MOBERLY AREA Moberly Area was given the No. 16 seed after finishing the year with a 27-6 record and an 11-game winning streak. The Greyhounds currently rank 17th in the NJCAA in points per game, scoring 86.1.
MACC is led offensively by Sincere Parker who is averaging 21.8 points per game. Tyren Moore and Michael Thomas are second and third, scoring 12.9 and 11.2.
Center Jimmy Bell leads the team in rebounding, hauling in 9.2 per game. Parker is second with 6.1.
HOW TO WATCH Every game this year will be streamed at NJCAATV.com as part of their subscription plan.
To keep up with the entire tournament, bookmark the NJCAA's Men's Championship Central page at NJCAA.org.