There is no hotter team in the Region XIV Conference men’s tournament than the Kilgore College Rangers.

Just ask Blinn.

KC held a 20-point lead for a while late in the second half of a tournament quarterfinal game, here at John Anderson Gymnasium in Jacksonville. Blinn staged a comeback, but waited way too late to do it, and ultimately lost to the Rangers, 86-75, hitting a two-point layup just at the buzzer.

Blinn’s season is over.

For coach Brian Hoberecht and the Rangers, who have won seven straight games, it’s on to the conference semifinals. They’ll play in the second game of the semifinals on Friday night. The two women’s semifinals are tomorrow afternoon. At 6 p.m., the first men’s semifinal, regular season conference champion Trinity Valley will be taking on Panola, and then the Rangers will play Navarro at 8.

The entire tournament is being played at Anderson Gymnasium; admission is $5 per game, or a tournament pass for $25.

The conference championship games are Saturday, with the women’s game beginning at 4, and then the men’s finals at 7. The conference champions, both women and men, advance to the NJCAA National Tournament later this month.

Hoberecht’s Rangers had three to score in double figures against Blinn’s Buccaneers in Thursday night’s game: K.J. Jenkins led with 22 points. Dantwan Grimes had 19, and Da’Sean Nelson had 15. Godwin Illumoka had nine points; Stephan Morris had seven; Paul Otieno had six; Malik Grant and Tysen Banks each had three; and Duane Posey had two.

Jenkins had nine rebounds; Nelson and Javonne Lowrey each had five; Jenkins had three steals; Banks had six assists; Nelson had four; Grimes had three; and Otieno had three blocked shots. Jenkins went 7-of-8 from the free throw line; Nelson went 6-of-8.

The Rangers as a team hit 12 three-point shots (and shot 52 percent from three-point range), and also won the rebounding battle (33 to 26).

Calvin Carpenter led Blinn with 16 points. Davion Coleman had 14.

Blinn trailed by double digits, closer to 20 points, for much of the second half, and cut it as close as 78-71 with 1:23 left. But KC guided its way through the defensive press called for by Blinn (and former KC) head coach Scott Schumacher, and held on for the win.

Blinn’s season ends at 8-11. The Rangers are 16-5, counting all games played this year.

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