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Hinds’ run ends in Region 23 semifinals

CLINTON — Zeke Cook posted a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds, and Kyland Blackmon scored 23 points to lead Northeast Mississippi Community College to a 78-68 victory over Hinds Community College in the semifinals of the NJCAA Region 23 men’s basketball tournament on Thursday.

Hinds (13-3) had a four-game winning streak snapped and finished its best season in more than decade. The Bulldogs fell behind by 11 points in the first half before coming back to take a 31-29 lead at halftime.

Hinds then opened the second half with a 6-0 burst before fading in the last 11 minutes. Jacob Tracey hit a 3-pointer to give Northeast Mississippi a 46-44 lead with 11:21 remaining and start a decisive 10-2 run. Hinds did not get closer than six points in the last eight minutes.

Jordan Johnson was 10-for-13 at the free throw line and scored a game-high 26 points for Hinds. Kyle Hayman added 14 points, but no other players were in double figures.

As a team, Hinds shot just 35.2 percent (19-for-54) from the field overall, and was 7-for-23 from 3-point range.

Northeast Mississippi (15-3) advanced to the Region 23 championship game against Holmes Community College on Friday night. The teams will play at 7:30 p.m. at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.

Kaleb Higgins had 26 points and six rebounds as Holmes beat Pearl River 61-58 in the other semifinal on Thursday. Holmes (14-3) hit a 3-pointer with under a minute to play for the winning points.

Jaronn Wilkens led Pearl River (12-2) with 19 points.