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Bulldogs claim Region XXIII Championship and secure a spot in NJCAA Tournament

Bulldogs claim Region XXIII Championship and secure a spot in NJCAA Tournament

CLINTON --- The Holmes Community College Bulldogs are headed back to Hutchinson, Kansas for the second time in four seasons after Holmes knocked off Pearl River Community College, 77-64, in the Region XXIII Tournament finals here tonight at Mississippi College in Clinton.

The Bulldogs improved to 24-4 on the season and now waiting to hear who their opponent will be in the opening round of the NJCAA Tournament which begins on March 19 in Hutchinson. Holmes last went to the tournament during the 2015 season and finished in the Elite 8. Holmes got to this year's region finals by knocking off Copiah-Lincoln and Southwest while the Wildcats got to the finals by defeating Gulf Coast and Northeast.

Holmes jumped out early on the Wildcats and never trailed in the contest. With 14 minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs went up 15-2 after Kortez Wade rebounded a missed shot and put it back in. Holmes led 17-6 with 11:30 left in the first half on Justin Johnson bucket in the lane.

The Bulldogs held a 24-15 lead with 7:30 left to play in the first half when Stanley Williams knocked down a three. Wade added two free throws with 2:41 left in the half to put Holmes up 13 at 38-25. The Bulldogs pulled out to their largest lead of the night at 41-27 before the Wildcats brought it to within eight at 41-33 with one minute left in the half. Williams added two free throws with 10 seconds left, and Holmes led Pearl River 43-35 at halftime.

A Trevais Spencer layup with 16:30 left in the game put the Bulldogs up by 11, and the Bulldogs still had a 10-point lead with 14:43 left to play. A mini-run by the Wildcats brought the score to 55-48 with 11:16 left in the game.

Another Wade putback with 10:05 left stretched the lead back to eight at 58-50 before Williams' three-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 10-point lead with 7:16 left in the game at 65-55. Javon Franklin's dunk with 4:20 remaining increased the lead to 13 at 71-58. Holmes led by 10 at 71-61 with 3:04 left, and Williams hit two free throws with 1:20 left to put Holmes up 75-64.

Franklin led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points while Williams had 17 and Kassim Nicholson had 14. Franklin had seven rebounds while Johnson had six.

For the game, the Bulldogs shot 57.1 percent from the floor (32-of-56) and 57.1 percent from the three-point line (4-of-7).