Holmes defeats Gulf Coast, 48-45; heads to Region XXIII final vs. Pearl River

CLINTON --- The Holmes Community College Bulldogs are headed to the Region XXIII finals tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Mississippi College after knocking off the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs in the semifinals here tonight, 48-45.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 17-9 overall. Holmes will play Pearl River, who knocked off Jones in overtime, 63-61, in the other semifinal game.

The Bulldogs tied the game at 43 with 4:10 to go in the game on a layup from Kassim Nicholson and then took a 46-43 lead with :40.3 left in the game when Czar Perry nailed a jumper from the right side. Gulf Coast then scored on two-point bucket with :29 left in the game before Perry stole the ball at mid-court and slammed it on the other end to end the scoring at 48-45 with less than one second left.

Gulf Coast led early in the contest before the Bulldogs tied the game at seven when Jaylen Lester hit one of two free throws. Holmes then took a 9-7 lead on a bucket from Winford Ross. Gulf Coast retook the lead with 12:56 at 11-9 and led the remainder of the first half and led 27-18 at halftime.

Holmes then started battling back. A Nicholson bucket with 18:01 to play brought Holmes within four at 27-23. He then hit a three with 16:53 left in the second half to make it 29-26 Gulf Coast. A Lester three-pointer tied the game at 29 before Gulf Coast pulled away again with 13:30 to play with the score, 35-29.

Gulf Coast led by six with 7:40 left before Holmes made another run. A Nicholson bucket with 5:25 left made it 43-39 Gulf Coast. Ross had a dunk with 4:30 left to play make it 43-41 Gulf Coast before Nicholson tied it up for the final stretch run of the game.

Holmes shot 35.3 percent from the floor (18-of-51) and 63.6 percent from the free-throw line (7-of-11).

Ross finished with 14 points while Nicholson had 11 and Perry had 10. Nicholson finished with nine rebounds.