POPLARVILLE — Pearl River's men's and women's basketball teams loaded up on out-of-state competition this year in an effort to see what they're made of ahead of MACJC play.
The Wildcats will travel to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida in search of tests before entering league play.
"Every year its different. This year we have a lot of our core returning, so we tried our best to make sure we challenged them enough to get them ready for South Division play," said PRCC men's coach Chris Oney, fresh off of last year's state championship.
Although PRCC's women's roster is built differently, coach Scotty Fletcher has the same goals with the team's 2018-19 slate.
"We feel like it's critical to scheduling opponents who will challenge us," he said. "Even though we're young with 13 freshmen, we wanted to test ourselves."
Both teams will get used to travel this year as the Wildcats are never home for more than two consecutive contests in 2018-19.
PRCC will travel to Texas in October for jamboree action, with the men visiting Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 6 and the women heading to Frisco, Texas, on Oct. 13. The men will play Coffeyville, Three Rivers College and Midland College. The opponents for the women's exhibition games have not yet been announced.
The men will host the William Carey junior varsity Nov. 1 and Louisiana Christian on Nov. 15 before participating in the East Central Shootout in Decatur on Nov. 19-20. PRCC then visit Baton Rouge on Nov. 27 to round out the men's-only contests.
PRCC's women host Alabama Southern on Nov. 12 and then visit ASCC on Dec. 1. The Lady Wildcats also breakup their league slate with a road trip to Baton Rouge on Jan. 19.
Both teams will visit Delgado on Nov. 3 and Bishop State on Nov. 8, with a return game in Poplarville against the latter set for Nov. 29. The final joint non-conference contests will come in early December and January with a road trip to Northwest Florida State College on Dec. 7-8 and a home doubleheader against Delgado on Jan. 8.
"The great thing about the diverse non-conference schedule is you get a chance to play different teams and see different defenses and personnel," Fletcher said. "I definitely think with us continuing to grow, I think we'll be tested early but it will be good for us."
PRCC's first MACJC South Division matchup with be against Copiah-Lincoln on Dec. 3.
The rest of PRCC's MACJC schedule is as follows: At East Central on Jan. 10; vs. Jones College on Jan. 14; at Hinds on Jan. 17; at Mississippi Gulf Coast on Jan. 22; vs. Southwest on Jan. 24; at Meridian on Jan. 28; at Co-Lin on Jan. 31; vs. East Central on Feb. 4; at Jones College on Feb. 7; vs. Hinds on Feb. 11; vs. Mississippi Gulf Coast on Feb. 14; at Southwest on Feb. 18; and vs. Meridian on Feb. 21.
The MACJC State Tournament will be held at the home of the women's South Division's winner and runs Feb. 25-28. The Region XXIII Tournament will be held at Mississippi College and runs March 5-8.
All home basketball matches are set for 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.