ELLISVILLE, Miss. — For 18 straight games No. 7 Pearl River found different ways to build the nation's best undefeated streak. From scoreboard busting runaways to late rallies and defensive slugfests, the Wildcats' record remained unblemished.
Pearl River fell 91-88 at a hostile Jones College on Thursday, but the Wildcats didn't go down without first forcing overtime.
"I'm proud of them. Once again we hit a lull where we could have folded but we kept fighting, kept trying and a few came through," PRCC Chris Oney said. "From there we played the way we thought we would play at the beginning of the game. It just didn't happen."
Pearl River (18-1 overall, 9-1 MACJC) led 7-6 but didn't regain the lead until regain the lead until 5:55 in regulation when Kirk Parker (Vicksburg) scored on a pass under the basket from Jonas James III (Jackson; Murrah). The score pushed PRCC ahead 66-65 and capped a 13-5 run by the Wildcats.
From there until the final buzzer both teams had to work for every point.
JC (15-4, 9-1) built a five-point advantage, 75-70, with 3:00 remaining but the Wildcats were undeterred.
PRCC scored five straight on two Eric Thornton Jr (Canton; Murrah) free throws, a Cedric Brim Jr. (Tupelo; Shannon) jumper and a Chris Agbo (Jos, Nigeria) free throw. Jones College hit a three, but after a Thornton slam with 29.3 seconds remaining the Wildcats 4 of six free throws down the stretch to tie the game 81-81. Cameron Smith (Okolona) hit the final two to force overtime.
"I have said all along I have confidence in everybody who's on my team to help us win a game. That proved to be true again tonight," Oney said. "Cam came off the bench and gave us wonderful minutes. Fred Thompson came off the bench and sparked us a bit in the first half."
The five-minute overtime frame once again went down to the final seconds, with each team matching the other shot for shot. PRCC momentarily pulled ahead 88-85 on a long Brandon Rachal (Natchitoches, La.; Natchitoches Central) jumper and a slash down the lane by Brim. The Bobcats scored the final three points of the contest to secure the upset.
Oney used the post-game meeting to remind the reigning MACJC champs that one loss won't define their season.
"The standard is to try and win them all, but that's not the goal. The goal is to win the last one," he said. "All of our goals we set at the beginning of the year are still out in front of us. We can't look behind us and miss a step in front of us."
The Wildcats have a 24-hour rule before they begin preparation for Monday's contest.
"We'll be over this one and on to the next one," he said.
Rachal led PRCC in scoring with 22 points. Thornton and Brim added 19 and 17 respectively. Agbo and James rounded out PRCC's leaders with 10 and nine points.
Pearl River returns to action Monday with a 7:30 p.m. home meeting against Hinds. The game can be seen at PRCCAthletics.com and heard on both WRJW 1320 AM and WRJWRadio.com.
Anyone with a Roku device can also watch the games by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel in the app store.