PRCC Wildcats fall to hot-shooting Holmes in region final

PRCC Wildcats fall to hot-shooting Holmes in region final

By Stan Caldwell

PRCC Sports Information


CLINTON – Pearl River Community College men's basketball coach Chris Oney probably said it best in his postgame comments Friday night.


"I told the kids, it wasn't the storybook ending we wanted, but it was still a storybook," said Oney. "I'm proud of our kids, and I'm excited about the future."


The Wildcats were hit with an early blitz by hot-shooting Holmes and never recovered in dropping the championship game of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament 77-64 at Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.


Pearl River (23-5) still holds a slim chance of an at-large bid to the NJCAA Division I Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., but Oney wasn't confident that a bid would be forthcoming for the Wildcats. Holmes improved to 24-4 and will head to Kansas as region champs.


The Bulldogs opened the game on a 15-2 run and while the Wildcats got back in the game, especially in the second half, they could only cut the deficit to five, and each time Holmes had an answer.


"They came out with more energy than we did," said freshman Eric Thornton Jr. (Jackson). "We didn't play with the energy we needed at the start."


The Bulldogs shot the lights out throughout the game, but especially in the first 15 minutes of play, converting 15 of their first 22 shots from the field.


Holmes shot 54.8 percent in the first half (17 of 31), were 15 of 25 (60.0 percent) in the second half and were 57.1 percent (32 of 56) for the game.


"I think they had an advantage having played us in the state tournament last week," Oney said of Pearl River's 69-67 overtime win in the MACJC State Tournament semifinals. "They were able to make some adjustments to slow us down."


PRCC got back in the game in the last five minutes of the first half, and trailed 43-35 at halftime. The Wildcats cut the deficit to six twice in the second half, then freshman Jonas James III (Jackson) nailed a 3-point shot to cut Holmes' lead to 60-55.


However, the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 run to put the game out of reach.


"Coach Oney wanted me to be aggressive (in the second half), and I thought I did," said James, who led the Wildcats with 22 points and 5 assists. "We just fell short at the end."


Thornton added 14 points and freshman Cedric Brim Jr. finished with 11 points for the Wildcats.


As disappointing as the loss was, there was plenty of optimism in the Wildcat locker room after the game, as they return three of the five starters from Friday's game, along with James, who was effective coming off the bench in the latter part of the season.


"I'm going to work on getting a little bigger and stronger (in the offseason)," said Thornton. "And I want to improve my shooting, especially from the outside.


"I think we're going to be much better next year."


NJCAA Region 23 Tournament

At Wood Coliseum, Clinton


Tuesday's Games


Southwest 70, Northwest 68

Holmes 74, Copiah-Lincoln 60

Northeast 75, Baton Rouge 59

Pearl River 66, Gulf Coast 57

Thursday's Games


Holmes 89, Southwest 74

Pearl River 86, Northeast 79

Friday's Game


Holmes 77, Pearl River 64



(Photo courtesy of Juco Weekly)

Pearl River freshman Eric Thornton Jr. dribbles on the perimeter against the defense of Holmes' Stanley Williams during action Friday night in the men's championship game of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Clinton.


Pearl River freshman Jonas James III stands at the foul line preparing to shoot a free throw Friday night against Holmes in the men's championship game of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Clinton.




NJCAA Region 23 Tournament


Friday at Clinton

Holmes 77, Pearl River 64

Holmes            43        34                  77

Pearl River      35        29        –          64

HOLMES (24-4): Stanley Williams 17 (7 assists), Trey Spencer 7, Mikel Norment 2, Jonah Simpson 2, Kassim Nicholson 14, Kortez Wade 9, Javon Franklin 18 (7 rebounds), Justin Johnson 8.

PEARL RIVER (23-5): Jonas James III 22 (5 assists), Cedric Brim Jr. 11, Rodney Mallett 5, Eric Thornton Jr. 14, Brandon Cranford 2, Cameron Douglas 2, Ray Anderson 2, Kirk Parker 4 (6 rebounds), Jartavius Dobbs 2.