CLINTON – Mississippi Gulf Coast lost the battle on boards and saw its season come to an end in the Region 23 semifinals Thursday.
No. 2 seed Northeast defeated the third-seeded Bulldogs 87-73 at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Winston Morgan (5-10, 170, So., East Catholic/Manchester, Conn.) finished with 24 points and five rebounds. Davion Cole-Johnson (6-4, 210, So., Pike/Glen Ellyn, Ill.) had 20 points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal.
"The season was a tremendous success. I told the kids that. I'm disappointed the way we played the second half today, but as far as the season goes we've have one heck of a year."
The Tigers, the defending region champs, improved to 21-7. They'll play the winner of Thursday night's Southwest-Jones County contest for the automatic berth in the NJCAA Division I Tournament.
Gulf Coast finished the season one victory short of the 20-win plateau at 19-7.
The game was tied at 36 at halftime. Gulf Coast outshot Northeast in the first half, making 15 of 32 from the floor. But the Tigers dominated the glass to make up for shooting 35.1 percent.
"The thing we have to do, and it's not just today, it's yesterday and all year, you have to play defense and you have to rebound," Weathers said. "At halftime, the score was tied and we had been outrebounded by 11. We hadn't played our best basketball and we were still right there. If we go out and play the second half and just step it up a little bit, we'll be right there."
Gulf Coast wasn't able to stop a Northeast push after the break led by point guard Shunn Buchanan. He had 22 of his 26 points after the break as the Tigers were able to pull away. Northeast finished with five players in double digits.
Weathers pointed out that of his team's seven losses, one was by four points and two more were by single points in the final seconds of the game.
"The season was a tremendous success," Weathers said. "I told the kids that. I'm disappointed the way we played the second half today, but as far as the season goes we've have one heck of a year. If somebody had told me before the season began we would win 19 ballgames, I'd have looked to see what they were smoking and drinking."
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