Strong second half propels No. 22 Pearl River past Holmes
PRCC / Tyler Johnson-Intern
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 22 Pearl River men's basketball team welcomed the Holmes Bulldogs into Marvin R. White Coliseum for Monday night's matchup and overcame a halftime deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 64-48.
"I don't think that we played badly in the first half, but I think that we came out with a different energy in the second half," head coach Chris Oney said. "I'm proud of the team and the fight that they showed tonight."
FIRST HALF Holmes (6-11 overall; 2-6 MACCC) started off on the front foot by nailing a 3-pointer for the early 3-0 lead.
Pearl River (15-2; 10-0) responded quickly through a Dylan Brumfield (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) jumper from the free-throw line, cutting the deficit to 3-2. After Holmes scored to make the score 5-2, the Wildcats again found a response this time through an Ankerion Gross (Sardis; North Panola) 3-pointer that tied the score at 5-5.
From there, the Wildcats went on a small run. The run was started by a Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi) layup.
Earl Smith, Jr (Jackson; Lanier) then drove to the outside before stepping back and putting the Holmes defender on skates. He then drained a 3-pointer, opening things up in favor of Pearl River 10-5.
From there, the teams traded blows with Holmes, grabbing a 16-13 advantage.
Pearl River again was quick to respond through a J.D. Allen (Brookhaven; Wesson) 3-pointer, tying the game at 16 apiece.
After a quick Bulldog basket, the Wildcats kept possession after a missed rebound chance went out of play. As Smith searched for an option to inbound the ball, Carlous Williams (Hattiesburg; Harrison Central) slashed through the lane catching the alley-oop pass and slamming it home, tying the game 18-18.
Smith then hit another 3-pointer, reclaiming the lead for the Wildcats 21-18.
From there, the Wildcats went on another small run through a Jaronn Wilkens free throw and a Brison Waller (Cleveland, Oh; Garfield Heights) slam, setting the Wildcat lead at 24-18.
The teams again traded blows with Holmes taking the lead once again 29-26.
The Wildcats did grab another basket right before halftime through a Waller alley-oop slam from Gross, but the Wildcats were down 29-28 as the halftime buzzer sounded.
SECOND HALF The Wildcats came out of the half on fire as Jaronn Wilkens converted on his free throw opportunities to give the Wildcats the lead 30-29.
This sparked Pearl River to go on a big eight-point run that included a Jaronn Wilkens layup, Gross 3-pointer, and two more Jaronn Wilkens free-throws, increasing the lead to 37-29.
After a quick basket by Holmes, Smith found Jaronn Wilkens open again in the paint for the layup putting Pearl River ahead 39-31. After a Bulldog 3-pointer, Jaronn Wilkens hit Waller in the lane for the dunk as the Wildcats led 41-34.
Holmes got a point back from the free-throw line and Gross took matters into his own hands nailing back-to-back 3-pointers, blowing things open 47-35 in favor of Pearl River. The teams traded blows again with the Wildcats, keeping the advantage swelling the lead to 54-42.
Jaronn Wilkens again made his way up the court and found Brumfield open who in turn slammed it home increasing the lead for Pearl River 56-42.
After another Bulldog basket ended the Wildcat run, Allen found Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) for the dunk, making the score 58-44.
From there, the Wildcats rode the momentum to victory, winning by a final score of 64-48.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING Gross led the way offensively for the Wildcats, tying his career-high with 17 points. He also added six rebounds.
"I appreciate my teammates for believing in me and coach Oney for giving me confidence when shooting the ball," Gross said.
Jaronn Wilkens was in the middle of everything the Wildcats did offensively on the night. He finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.
Jariyon Wilkens finished with nine points.
Brumfield finished with eight points of his own and grabbed three assists.
Smith led the team in assists with five.
UP NEXT The Wildcats hit the road on Thursday to take on Jones. The game is set to get underway at 6 p.m. and will be livestreamed at JCBobcats.com/watch.
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