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Pearl River women look to build on momentum in 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Each new season brings new obstacles, new excitement, new opportunity and, especially in the case of Pearl River’s women’s basketball program, new optimism.

Despite having to maneuver through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, head coach Scotty Fletcher is optimistic as ever that his Wildcats’ upward trajectory won’t be derailed.

The pandemic, Fletcher said, has actually given his student athletes a different perspective that has helped keep them in the present.

“I do think it’s heightened the importance to enjoy every single day, every rep, every practice because we’re not guaranteed tomorrow from a quarantine standpoint,” he said. “Obviously, this has hit home with a lot of our families. We have had players on our team that COVID has hit their families hard and been devastating in some instances. 

“This is something we don’t take lightly. We’re adjusting and adapting each and every day.”

During practice in the fall and then again this preseason, Fletcher and his staff have worked to instill a tireless work ethic that he expects to see on the hardwood this season.

“We have to stay together,” he said. “I think ability allows you to win the first, second and third quarters, but your character, togetherness and mental toughness are what separate you. If we make sure we do everything we’re supposed to do then we’ll get the right outcome.”

LEADING THE WAY
Back from last year’s MACJC Tournament squad are a trio of experienced sophomores in Allanah Turner (Gulfport; West Harrison), Otashae Burrage (Carthage; Leake County) and Brieanna Miller (Moss Point). PRCC also returns Alesha Temple (Oak Grove), who redshirted last year while working her way back from injury.

Turner was fifth on the team a year ago, scoring 5.0 points per game. She also registered 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals. Miller and Burrage averaged 3.9 and 3.7 ppg respectively, with Miller averaging 3.8 rebounds.

“They know what’s expected. They have laid the foundation. There has been a lot of maturity,” Fletcher said. “Alannah Turner and Brieanna Miller have made a lot of growth in maturity.”

Fletcher said Burrage has really impressed him during her time at PRCC.

“Tae, in my six years here, has probably been the most consistent player I have coached. She’s consistent every single day. You know what you’re getting from her,” he said. “You’re getting a winner, someone who believes in the coaching staff and believes in our scheme offensively and defensively. She takes coaching the right way. We talk about criticism and feedback and how they’re really the same thing, it’s just how you take it. Her drive to be great is second to none. She’s someone who started for us last year. 

“She earned the right to start and is someone I count on. I expect her to have a big sophomore year.”

NEWCOMERS
PRCC’s newcomers include six true freshman and a transfer.

“It looks like a group that is hungry to learn,” Fletcher said. “They’re eager. They’re very receptive to coaching and their attitudes are great each and every day.”

Khrystallyn Harkless (Forest) transferred to PRCC after spending her freshman season at Pensacola State College. At PSC, Harkless averaged 2.8 ppg but scored a season-high 11 points in a thrilling 60-59 win over nationally ranked Chipola.

PRCC’s freshman class includes high school state champions in Ra’nae Tumblin (New Orleans; Booker T. Washington) and Kassie Dolliole (New Orleans; Booker T. Washington), along with guards TyMesha Reed (Meridian), Brandy Scott (Hammond, La.) and Keshunti Nichols (Pearl). 

“All of our freshmen have been contributing,” Fletcher said. “Brandy Scott and Ra’Nae Tumblin have been unbelievable. They continue to get better each and every day. Each rep I’m seeing growth there.

“Keshunti Nichols is another one who’s a hybrid. She’s active and runs the floor extremely well. She’s a high-energy player who brings excitement to the game both offensively and defensively.”

Fletcher added that Reed is gaining more confidence with her knee after rehabbing from a high school injury.

In the post, Marcavia Shavers (Biloxi) and Bryanna Taylor (Terry) will add much needed size at 6-foot-2 and 6-feet respectively.

“Marcavia Shavers and Bryanna Taylor are extremely powerful rebounders,” he said. “Their skill sets are really good. They know how to score with the ball on the block and how to play really well with their back to the basket.”

SCHEDULE
Pearl River opens its season Monday, Jan. 25 against East Central. Due to this year’s mirrored schedule, the PRCC men will travel to Decatur while the women will host ECCC. All South Division games will start at 6 p.m.

“We always joke that this is the mini-SEC in football, but I think the same applies to basketball. This year we’re only playing a South Division schedule,” Fletcher said. “There are no preparation games or easy games on our schedule. We have a great amount of respect for every opponent and we know how tough it will be each and every night.”

ATTENDANCE
Because of the pandemic, there will not be general admission at home basketball games. Following guidelines set by the state of Mississippi, PRCC is limiting attendance to only players, coaches, spirit squads, the PRCC pep band, gameday personnel and family members. No Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference or Mississippi High School Activities Association passes will be accepted.

HOW TO TUNE IN
To help fans stay connected to the Wildcats this semester, Pearl River once again plans to stream all of its home events at PRCCMedia.com. Most events will be broadcast at PRCCMedia.com/Gold but in some instances where multiple teams are at home, PRCC will also have a feed on its auxiliary channel at PRCCMedia.com/Maroon. Fans who have Roku or Amazon Fire devices can also watch the Wildcats on their televisions by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app store.

Pearl River’s basketball games will also be broadcast on WRJWRadio.com and 1320 AM.

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