No. 23 PRCC guts out overtime win in Region 23 semifinal
Published 4:48 pm Monday, March 6, 2023
CLINTON, Miss. — In the dying embers of the Region 23 Semifinal, the No. 23 Pearl River women’s basketball team needed a miracle against Meridian.
The Wildcats received possession with 1.9 remaining on the clock and coach Scotty Fletcher called out a play to get the ball in the hands of his star guard, J’Mani Ingram (North Augusta, S.C.). The guard drove inside, went up with a shot and drew a foul with 0.4 remaining on the clock. She quickly slashed home her first free throw, sending the Wildcats into overtime locked at 49-49.
A six-point overtime showing from Ingram combined with a smothering defense handed PRCC a 55-49 victory, sending the Wildcats to the Region 23 Title game for the second straight year.
“She’s been our best player all year. She’s got us to this point,” Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher said. “You always want to put the ball in your best player’s hands. I told her to read the defense and make a play and she did that. J’Mani Ingram is the best competitor that I’ve ever coached. We were either going to win it or lose it with the ball in her hands.”
Although Meridian (24-4 overall) controlled the opening tip, Pearl River (24-2) instantly forced a shot clock violation. With every move the Eagles made, a Wildcat defender was there to stop the play.
Marcavia Shavers (Biloxi) gave PRCC its first lead of the game after snagging an offensive rebound, spinning and laying it softly off the class for a 4-2 advantage.
Keshunti Nichols (Pearl) single-handedly created a basket with just under three minutes in the quarter. The sophomore forward blocked a 3-point attempt on the defensive side, grabbed the rebound and then scored on the offensive side. After catching the pass inside, she faked out the defenders for an easy floater, cutting it to a 13-10 deficit.
Down 15-10 with the time ticking down in the quarter, PRCC began to turn things around. Brandy Scott (Hammond, La.) came out of a scrum with an offensive board and dished off to Hama’ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) who took two steps inside and knocked down a pull-up jumper. Fielder struck again with six seconds on the clock, catching a pass and hitting nothing but net on her 3-point attempt, squaring the game at 15 apiece.
Locked in a 17-17 tie early in the second, Halle Traylor (Tupelo) knocked down a 3-pointer from nearly five feet beyond the line. One possession later, Fielder caught a pass in the corner and sliced it home for a 23-17 lead.
Ingram sent PRCC to the locker room in front 26-21 after a perfect trip to the free-throw line.
MCC’s halftime adjustments paid off to start the second half as the Eagles battled back to knot things up at 31-31 before embarking on a 7-0 run to take a 39-31 lead.
A well-timed timeout from Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher eased the stress of the Wildcats as they turned in an 11-0 run to move back in front, 42-39. The big run was highlighted by a pair of good plays from Ingram. On the first, she pulled down an offensive rebound and put it back up. She ended the quarter by dashing inside and pulling up with a jumper, sending PRCC into the fourth quarter with the lead.
Fielder showed off her catch-and-shoot game with about five minutes left on the clock as she was fed a pass on the right wing and slashed it home, 47-43. The Eagles again battled back to take the lead, 49-48 with 8.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
Ingram was fed a ball with 1.9 seconds remaining and drove inside before getting fouled on her shot attempt. The guard knocked down one of her two free throws, sending PRCC into overtime locked at 49-49.
“I work. I put in the work. I knew that I could knock it down,” Ingram said. “With the confidence that my coaches and teammates give me all of the time, I knew I could knock it down for them.”
The momentum carried over for Ingram and the Wildcats in the overtime period as she scored six points, and the Wildcat defense held the Eagles scoreless over the 5-minute period to secure a 55-49 victory.
BY THE NUMBERS
Ingram finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. Fielder collected 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Simon had a monster day on the boards with 14 rebounds. She also blocked three shots. Shavers wrapped up the night with 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats will face a familiar foe in the title game, taking on Jones College for the second straight season. Tipoff inside A.E. Wood Coliseum is set for 3 p.m. The game will be livestreamed at PRCCMedia.com/Gold. It can also be heard at WRJWRadio.com.