POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River men’s basketball team defeated the visiting Copiah-Lincoln Wolves in a defensive battle Monday night by a final score of 52-42. The Wildcats extended their winning streak to nine games.
“Defensively, I thought we were exceptional.” Head coach Chris Oney said, “I told them at halftime that January and February were going to be tough because it’s close to the basketball playoffs. I thought it was good that we were challenged tonight.
Pearl River once again proved why they are the nation’s fifth-leading defensive team by holding the nation’s second-highest scorer 20 points below his average.
The Wildcats (13-2 overall; 8-0 MACCC) started things off with a bang, as Cameron Brown (Hattiesburg) found themselves wide open from the 3-point line. He managed to nail the shot giving Pearl River a 3-0 lead.
Shortly after, Jaron Wilkens (Biloxi) fought by contact for a layup to increase the lead to 5-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
After a quick basket from Wolves (5-10; 2-5), Pearl River continues another short race. Jarion Wilkens (Biloxi) hit a wide open jumper from the free throw line which was followed by a JD Allen (Brookhaven; Wesson) 3 points. The baskets forced a Wolves timeout as the Wildcats led 10-2.
With the Wildcats up 12-8, Earl Smith (Jackson; Lanier) drove into the paint drawing through most of the defense leading to an easy to lob lob. Brison Waller (Cleveland, Oh; Garfield Heights) for the slam alley-oop. The bucket gave the Wildcats a 16-8 lead.
Shortly after, the Wildcats raced up the field and Allen sliced under the basket and put the ball down to increase the lead to 16-8.
From there, the teams traded scores as Pearl River held a slim 19-14 lead midway through the first half.
The teams again traded blows; however, Pearl River retained the lead, entering halftime in the lead, 24-17.
Wolves opened the scoring to start the second half, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 24-19.
Pearl River was quick to react thanks to the free throw shot of Jaron Wilkens. The points sparked a crucial first run for the Wildcats to start the second half. The run featured a Brown 3-pointer followed by another layup from Jaron Wilkens on a nice pass from Smith, culminating in a 31-19 Wildcat lead.
After a Wolves run cut the deficit to six, Pearl River again found an answer with a Jaron Wilkens basket, giving the Wildcats an eight-point cushion, 33-25.
Pearl River came upfield again after another Wolves basket and Waller found Williams open under the basket for the layup, putting the Wildcats up 35-27.
The Wildcats led to 20, but a late Wolves run cut the deficit to 10 before Pearl River finished the game with a 52-42 lead.
OPEN THE WAY
Brown led the way for Pearl River offensively, totaling 13 points and five rebounds.
Allen added 11 of his own and also grabbed five rebounds.
Jaron Wilkens was a force in the paint for the Wildcats as he had eight points and six rebounds.
Smith had a great night on the glass leading the team with nine rebounds. He also led the team in assists with five.
“Earl works very hard,” Oney said. “He played an important role in keeping the key tonight.”
The Wildcats hit the road Thursday to face East Mississippi. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and can be watched on EMCCAthletics.com/live.
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