CLINTON --- The Holmes Community College Bulldogs outscored the Pearl River Community College Wildcats, 31-24, in the second half of play but it wasn't enough to make up a 12-point deficit at halftime, 33-21, to pull out the win in the Region XXIII Championship game as Pearl River won the game, 57-52.
The Bulldogs, the Region XXIII runners-up, finished the season 17-10 overall. Pearl River won its first Region XXIII title and will be playing in the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas in the coming weeks.
Holmes held got a 6-5 lead with 16:05 to play in the first half on a bucket from Czar Perry. The Bulldogs increased the lead to 10-5 on a basket from Ross with 12:50 to play in the half.
Pearl River retook the lead with 10:50 to play at 11-10 before Ross hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 11 with 10 minutes to play in the half before Pearl River went up 12-11. Holmes went up 13-12 shortly after a bucket from Nicholson with 8:35 to play in the half. Pearl River held a 22-19 lead with 4:20 to play and increased the lead to as much as 12 points before the first half ended.
The Wildcats clung to a 10-point lead with 14:45 to play before the Bulldogs made a run to draw closer. Nicholson hit a three-pointer with 12:50 to play in the game to pull the Bulldogs within six at 39-33. The lead was still six as the teams swapped baskets in the next eight minutes of the contest. Robert Jordan hit some key buckets during the span to keep Holmes close.
Jaylen Lester's jumper with 3:07 to play brought the Bulldogs to within seven at 54-47. He added a layup with 2:37 to play to make it, 51-49, Pearl River. The Bulldogs got a close as three points at 55-52 with :14.8 to play when Nicholson added a three-pointer. Pearl River added two late free throws with a little over a second to go up five.
Nicholson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points while Perry and Robert Jordan each had 10. Ross finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
Holmes shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line.