Wolves split with Pearl River
WESSON – Coach Gwyn Young knows his Lady Wolves will have to play nearly flawless basketball throughout the remainder of the season if they are going to fight their way into post-season contention in a loaded MACJC South Division. The Lady Wolves came out firing from the tip on Monday night and had little trouble in a 78-59 victory over the Pearl River Lady Wildcats.
In men’s action the Wolves would see their five-game winning streak snapped in a 70-56 loss to Pearl River.
The Lady Wolves (10-6, 3-4 South Division) know they put themselves in a hole when they began division play with four straight losses. Young has seen his team respond over the last week and he felt like the effort he saw on Monday was his team’s best performance of the season. “Tonight we did some things right that we haven’t done well all year. Our effort was high from the very beginning and I liked how focused we were from the start,” said Young.
That focus was evident as the Lady Wolves took a 2-0 lead on a jumper by Caroline Lumpkin and took control of a lead that they would never relinquish. A willingness to share the basketball netted Co-Lin 12 assists as a team and they used full court pressure to harass Pearl River into committing 16 turnovers. Co-Lin led 32-23 at halftime and saw their lead swell to as many as 22 during second half.
Sophomore guard Ashley Minor posted a game high 25 points for Co-Lin. Minor, a Natchez High product, also pulled down a team leading seven rebounds. Lumpkin posted 13 points and Loyd Star alum Tyrisha Patterson netted 10 points.
Tamesha Holmes led Pearl River (11-3, 5-2 South Division) with 11 points.
The Wolves (8-8, 4-3 South Division) battled all night without ever seeming to be able to get a grasp of the game’s momentum. The Wolves, normally a team that shoots very well at home in Mullen Gymnasium, struggled to get the ball in the basket and shot 34 percent from the floor. The Wolves also struggle to get to the free throw line with the same frequency as the Wildcats. Co-Lin was 14-for-18 from the free throw line while Pearl River shot 23-for-34.
Wolves head coach Kenny Bizot felt like his team came out of the gate a step or two slow. “I’m disappointed because our focus wasn’t what it needed to be. We were a step slow on defense all night and that kept them on the free throw line,” said Bizot.
With 4:11 remaining until halftime the game was tied at 29. An 8-0 run to halftime would give Pearl River a 37-29 lead and a momentum boost that Co-Lin could never recover from. In the second half, Pearl River would push the lead to as many as 18, but Co-Lin would cut it to eight, 58-50, with nearly eight minutes remaining in regulation. That would be as close as the Wolves would get as Pearl River would break a five game losing streak at the expense of Co-Lin’s five game winning streak.
The Wolves got 17 points and six rebounds from sophomore Michael Vardaman. Sophomore Eric Smith added 15 points and nine rebounds. The Wolves shot 4-for-17 from the 3-point line. Co-Lin leading scorer Chris Steverson, who entered the night averaging 15.6 points per game, was held scoreless.
Pearl River (10-5, 3-4 South Division) got a game high 22 points from sophomore forward Kaven Bernard.
The Wolves and Lady Wolves begin the second go-round of MACJC South Division with a rematch versus Gulf Coast. The Bulldogs swept Co-Lin on Dec. 5 in their previous matchups. Gulf Coast comes to Wesson on Thursday, Jan. 30 with the women’s game tipping at 6 p.m. and the men’s game to follow.