POPLARVILLE, Miss. — With head coach Chris Oney calling the shots it appears the high-flying, all-out Wildcat Show will be back for an encore in 2019-20. No. 11 Pearl River blitzed visiting Delgado for a 36-point halftime advantage and cruised to a 98-53 victory in its season opener at Marvin R. White Coliseum.
"It seems like in junior college you're starting over every year but this is the first year in the last three years that we didn't have at least one double figure points player coming back so you don't really know until you see them," Oney said. "We've shown flashes but you never know until you see them in the game. I thought defensively we have a chance to be really good because we have a lot of length.
"All in all I thought defensively we were very good."
The Dolphins (0-1 overall) may have scored the first basket of the contest, but the game was all Wildcats (1-0) early on.
Pearl River built a 14-10 advantage — punctuated by a smooth 3-pointer from the top of the arc by College of Charleston transfer and St. John's commit Isaih Moore (Columbia, S.C.; Sumter) — and the rout seemingly was on.
Moore scored six of PRCC's next nine points — the lone exception was a 3-pointer from East Carolina transfer Tae Hardy (Ellenwood, Ga.; Believe Prep). The highlight of the run came when Moore banked a pass to himself off of the backboard before completing the fast break with a thunderous slam to put the Wildcats up 23-12.
"When guys were coming in to recruit him I told them all the same thing: You can't think of anything he can't do," Oney said of Moore. "When you're 6-10 and can run like that, I mean, we had him guarding a perimeter player tonight. You look up and he's grabbing rebounds and outrunning players. A lot of people are going to put bigs on him but he can also shoot the three.
"He can become any basketball player that he wants to be."
LOB CITY, MISSISSIPPI— PRCC Athletics (@PRCCAthletics) November 5, 2019
No. 11 @PRCCBasketball's Isaih Moore passes it to himself off the backboard & SLAMS it home! #RRR�� #HearOurROAR��️#NJCAATopPlays @NJCAA @NJCAABasketball #SCTop10 @SportsCenter pic.twitter.com/XnVQAy4JY2
After a Dolphins basket, Pearl River reeled off eight straight and 14 of 18 to push its lead to 38-16 with 7:22 remaining in the half.
Delgado found a groove if only for a few moments. The Dolphins scored six of the next nine points but only accounted for five points the rest of the half as Pearl River ran away for a 63-27 lead.
SECOND HALF CONTINUATION
The Wildcats picked up where they left off to start the second half, knocking down 3-pointers on three successive possessions to build a 72-31 advantage.
Moore was the unquestioned leader on a heavily rotated squad for Pearl River. The 6-foot-10 sophomore registered a double-double in his JUCO debut, with team-highs in points (21) and rebounds (15). He also led the Wildcats with three blocks.
Five other Wildcats hit double-figures on the score sheet with a sixth not far behind.
Aided by four 3-pointers, Hardy scored 15 points.
"Tae looked good in spots," Oney said. "We're going count on him so much this year. We need him to go about 30 minutes a game, he can't have those bad fouls. The luxury with having Tae is that we have a point guard that can really shoot it.
"He hardly ever misses when he gets his feet set and he can get to that mid-range and make that shot also which at 6-3 that's going to give some people some problems."
Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi) netted 14 points, with Earl Smith (Jackson; Lanier) chipping in 13. Kelvin Allen (Olive Branch) and Wichita State transfer Rod Brown (Memphis, Tenn.; Cordova) both scored 11. Cameron Smith (Okolona) added eight.
Wilkens was second on PRCC with seven rebounds. Smith pulled in six more.
Smith pickpocketed the Dolphins six times.
"All of our bigs are fast. I think Isaih and Rod could be the fastest (power forwards) and (centers) that we've had since I've been here," Oney said.
"That's why defensively I harp so much because if we can defend and rebound with these bigs that we got we can outrun a lot of teams."
ROOM TO IMPROVE
Even with the lopsided outcome, Oney said the team's next film session won't be a short one.
"We have to be able to execute in the half court because we have got to take advantage of guys like Isaih and Rod. It makes it so much easier for other guys when they make those shots. The game got a little sloppy late.
"We have got to try to execute as much as we can so on film we can look back and see what worked well."
Pearl River returns to Marvin R. White Coliseum on Thursday for a 6 p.m. tip against William Carey's junior varsity.
All home games will be livestreamed on PRCCMedia.com/gold and can be heard on WRJW 1320 AM or by tuning into the WRJW app.