POPLARVILLE — No. 17 Pearl River kept its record unblemished Monday, but it wasn't easy.
Visiting rival Jones College made the undefeated Wildcats work, but a late surge boosted PRCC past the Bobcats 75-68.
"We knew we had it the whole time, I guess you can tell that by how much I'm sweating," PRCC coach Chris Oney joked.
The Wildcats (12-0 overall, 3-0 MACJC) have blown out plenty of opponents this year, but JC (8-4, 2-1) never let Monday's host get comfortable. PRCC led 31-30 at the half and only built some breathing room coming out of the break thanks to a 9-0 run.
Just when it looked like PRCC would pull away down the stretch — particularly after a Brandon Rachal (Natchitoches, La.; Natchitoches Central) 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats their first 10-point lead (54-44) with 10:20 remaining — JC struck back.
The Bobcats traded baskets with PRCC in the final minutes, pulling within five points with 40 seconds remaining, but a monster dunk from Chris Agbo (Jos, Nigeria) on a home run pass with the Bobcats pressing all but killed JC's hopes at an upset.
"One of the reasons I'm so happy about this win is because coming off of the East Central win that was great but we came into a game against Jones that I knew it was going to be a grind. This game says a lot about our guys," Oney said. "We could have come out and assumed that it was going to be another 33-point win, but I thought we were focused, locked in to the scouting report and we played extremely hard.
"I thought we guarded them well but they hit some extremely difficult shots. Kudos to our guys, they didn't get frustrated. We didn't waver and we kept on grinding and grinded out to a seven-point win."
TEAM OF SCORERS
PRCC had four players score in double figures, with a fifth not far behind. Rachal led PRCC with 15 points. Jonas James III (Jackson; Murrah) added 14 — including one 3-pointer where he attempted to connect with a teammate on an alley-oop, but instead scored from distance on a rope. Cedric Brim Jr. (Tupelo; Shannon) and Eric Thornton Jr. (Canton; Murrah) each scored 11. Agbo added eight.
Although Kirk Parker (Vicksburg) only scored three points, Oney singled out the forward for his all-around play. The Southern University signee led the Wildcats with 10 rebounds and played a solid game in the post.
"When Kirk was being evaluated by Southern, their coach was wondering what Kirk could do. I told him to just go ahead and sign Kirk and then after next year call me and thank me," Oney said. "He does so many things that are not on the stat sheet that help us win games.
"Since he's been here he's been that kind of kid. I'm so proud of him."
The Wildcats return to action Thursday with a road trip to Hinds. The 7:30 p.m. contest will be broadcast on WRJW 1320 AM and online at WRJWRadio.com.