POPLARVILLE, Miss. — When Baton Rouge and No. 10 Pearl River met a week ago at the Bears' gym, the Wildcats had to scrap for a six-point victory.
There was no such drama Monday as PRCC came out of the gate hot to race past BRCC 104-57 inside Marvin R. White Coliseum. The victory capped Day 1 of the Wildcat Classic.
"I think the guys were ready to go," PRCC coach Chris Oney said. "I thought when we played them on the road last week we were ready to play but I don't think we were prepared as we should have been. We were tonight."
Cameron Smith (Okolona) helped set the tone for the Wildcats (4-0 overall) with a 3-pointer on their first possession. After a BRCC bucket and Kelvin Allen (Olive Branch) put-back, Tae Hardy (Ellenwood, Ga.; Believe Prep) book ended a timeout with a couple finesse jumpers to put PRCC ahead 9-2.
St. John's signee Isaih Moore (Columbia, S.C.; Sumter) scored on a teammate's miss and then slammed home an ally-oop pass from Smith to give PRCC a 13-4 advantage. Following a Bears (1-6) basket, Jariyon Wilkens (Biloxi) hit his first of two 3-pointers during a 12-3 run that saw PRCC build a 25-9 advantage.
BRCC hit double-digits at the 10:03 mark of the first half, but the Wildcats didn't let up. The two teams traded baskets for much of the remainder of the frame with PRCC eventually building a 22-point advantage — 54-32 — on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Moore.
The second half wasn't much more competitive as it didn't take long for the Wildcats to build a 30-point lead — 66-34 — thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Allen and Smith with 16 minutes remaining in the contest.
The lead only grew from there.
The Wildcats' largest lead was 51 points — 101-51 — with just under two minutes left following a trio of free throws from Wilkens.
Wilkens' freebies also helped PRCC eclipse 100 points for the second time in four games this year.
Moore led PRCC with 21 points at half-time and finished with a team-best 27. Moore's performance surpassed his previous scoring high of 21 points, which he hit in each of PRCC's first two games. Moore added eight rebounds, two steals and a block.
Smith earned a double-double for PRCC, scoring a season-high 17 points with a team-high 11 rebounds.
"Cam is a kid that last year was patient. He had to wait and play behind Brandon Rachal," Oney said. "This year we need him to step up in those minutes that Brandon left. He's fully capable and he's worked extremely hard.
"Tonight, I thought he had a chance to just relax and let the game come to him."
Hardy, Wilkens and Jamarcus Jones (Sardis; North Panola) rounded out PRCC's leading scorers with 13, 12 and 11 points respectively. Hardy led PRCC with four assists. Jaronn Wilkens (Biloxi), Smith and Dontavius Proby (Biloxi) each had three assists.
BACK AT IT
Pearl River's men will close out the Wildcat Classic at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with a showdown against LSU-Eunice.
STILL AT NO. 10
The latest NJCAA poll came out Monday and for the second week in a row the Wildcats checked in at No. 10. Tuesday's opponent, LSU-Eunice, is receiving votes in the latest ranking.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events are broadcast on PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store.