No stopping No. 7 Pearl River in rout of Hinds
Jaxon Dunaway - PRCC Intern
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 7 Pearl River women's basketball team returned to Marvin R. White Coliseum for its third MACCC contest of the year Monday night. The Wildcats took the lead early and did not look back against Hinds, winning 81-45.
"We tried to attack the soft spots in the defense," head coach Scotty Fletcher said. "When you do that, good things always happen in basketball. Our offensive point of attack was really good tonight."
The game opened back-and-forth, but Pearl River (16-2 overall; 3-0 MACCC) maintained a greater pace, combating Hinds (6-8; 1-3) with more baskets than it could handle. Samya Brooks (Pontotoc) began the scoring with an offensive rebound and a layup, and she continued to pepper the Bulldogs throughout the contest. Alexis Arrington (Terry) was fouled and picked up both free throws a few possessions later.
Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) nailed the game's first 3-pointer as the Wildcats led 13-7. Brooks then grabbed a rebound and put it back up for two, forcing a Bulldog timeout. As play resumed, Avery Young (Iota, La.) took an Arrington pass and banked it into the basket for a 3-pointer. The score was 25-17 before Young added two more from an arching shot inside the free-throw line.
Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Cleveland, Ohio; Charles F. Brush) produced a clean step-back jumper to set the Wildcat lead to ten, 29-19. Brooks capped a breakaway steal with a layup, knocking down the shot through a foul. She stepped to the line and drained her free throw. Pearl River eventually pulled ahead 38-24, largely thanks to the play of Brooks, who had 16 of PRCC's 38 points while hauling in six boards.
Johnson-Matthews assisted Arrington for a 3-pointer from the right wing. Fielder received a no-look pass from Arrington on the following play and executed a sharp 3-pointer, her second of the half. Johnson-Matthews and Brooks did well inside the paint down the stretch, each picking up rebounds and converting putback baskets.
Before the end of the half, Johnson-Matthews turned over the ball but immediately made up for it by stealing it back and finishing her strong half with a layup. The Wildcats finished the first half, leading Hinds 50-27.
Hinds scored first to open the new half, and then the Wildcats picked right back up where they left off, with Johnson-Matthews catching a pass from Marley Freeman (Brandon), taking a step forward, and draining a 3-pointer from just outside the arc. One play later, Young intercepted a pass, hitting the ball towards Brooks, who passed the ball one-handed and over her head for a Fielder layup, the baskets helped the Wildcats push their lead to 24, 55-31.
Tiir Nyok (High Point, N.C.; Southwest Guilford) found Fielder on the outside as she drained a 3-pointer. The basket was Fielder's third 3-pointer of the game.
Arrington followed by taking a steal coast-to-coast for a layup, 66-37. The score was 69-42 at the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcat defense aided a slow start by the offense by not allowing a score from HCC for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. PRCC forced a shot-clock violation and knocked the ball away numerous times with heavy pressing while the scoring halted. Finally, a foul enabled Hinds to pick up two points.
The Wildcats responded immediately with two of their own. Again, off the hands of Johnson-Matthews as she put in a one-handed layup off the backboard from the right side. Kamren Edwards (Jackson; Murrah) assisted Johnson-Matthews, who continued her display, adding another shot from beyond the arc. Her second three of the game gave her 20 points and the Wildcats a 30-point lead, 74-44.
Janiah Caples (Vicksburg) took an opportunity down the court and converted an arching shot from 3-point range. Nyok scored a layup, making it 79-44 with two minutes remaining. The Wildcats increased it from there off an Arrington flashy drive for two and another on the ensuing free throw. Audria Houston (Oxford; Tupelo) capped off the fine display by stealing a short pass and driving it down the court, where the Wildcats held on to the ball until the buzzer rang, 81-45.
BY THE NUMBERS
Johnson-Matthews led the Wildcats with 20 points, continuing her excellent season. She was 9-for-16 from the field, including a 2-for-4 mark from 3-point range. Brooks followed close behind with 18 points. She was 7-for-12 on field goals and 4-for-4 on free throws. She also collected eight rebounds.
"She's in a really good place mentally. She works every day," head coach Scotty Fletcher said. "I love her commitment to her game and personal health."
Arrington (pictured) finished with 14 points, going 5-for-9 overall and 1-for-2 on 3-point attempts. She also had six rebounds.
"You can see the last few days in practice she's been so locked in," Fletcher said. "Her activity level is superb."
The Wildcats go on the road Thursday to take on Itawamba. Tipoff in Fulton is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The game will be livestreamed at LetsGoICCTV.com.