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BAYTOWN, Texas — Led by the strong inside game of 6-9 centers Ronnie White and Nouhoum Bocoum, Paris Junior College closed out the first half with a 22-8 run for a 14-point lead, and the Dragons held off a tall, athletic Lee College team 78-71 on Saturday.
The win was the fourth straight for the Dragons since play resumed in January after the Christmas break. Paris improved to 12-4 overall and 5-1 in Region 14 play, while Lee’s Rebels fell to 6-7, 3-3.
Jovan Austin led Paris with 23 points and 8 rebounds. White was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and finished with 14 points, followed by Delvin Dickerson with 13 points (including a perfect 3-of-3 from outside the 3-point line), and Bohoum with 11 points.
Trahson Burrell, a 6-7 sophomore, led Lee with 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field, including 4-of-8 three-pointers. He hit three 3-pointers in the first 4-1/2 minutes of play. Fred Richardson added 16 points and Deng Deng 12.
Dickerson and Austin answered with a pair of 3-pointers each and the lead switched back and forth until PJC pulled away in the last eight minutes of the half.
White hadn’t played since mid-December because of knee injury, but he played strong on Saturday.
White threw down two slam dunks that roused a Paris cheering section that included Houston-area relatives of several Dragons (Delvin Dickerson, Xavier Dupree, Qua Doster, and redshirt Darin Minniefield).
“Ronnie White is back!” the Chicago sophomore said on the court after the game.
White scored three times inside in the last three minutes of the half, Bocoum added two goals; and Dickerson and Joe Haynes knocked down 3-pointers as PJC turned a 27-27 tie into a 49-35 halftime lead.
“It’s a huge win for us, a huge win,” PJC coach Chuck Taylor said. “Lee is an extremely aggressive team. They’re long, they’re athletic, they get the ball and take it to the bucket. They’re a good team, and they’re a dangerous team coming down the stretch.”
Taylor added: “They play very well at home and we knew they were going to make a run at us toward the end. We got rattled there for a while, but we got our composure back and made three throws down the stretch when we had to.”
The Dragons’ biggest lead was 16 points (54-38) after four minutes of the second half.
Lee was down 62-48 with 9:53 to play, but the Rebels scored 14 of the next 18 points to pull to within 66-62 with 5:13 left in the game.
White made two more shots and Austin also scored to get a little breathing room at 72-64 with 2:54 to play, but Burrell knocked down another 3-pointer, followed by two free throws, and then a soaring drive to the goal by Richardson.
Suddenly, Paris’ lead was only 72-71 with 1:31 on the clock.
Bocoum, going to the line on a 1-and-1, made the first free throw and missed the second, and it was 73-71 at 1:10.
Then the Dragons caught a break. Deng, a 6-8 freshman from Australia who had opened the second half with two 3-pointers and had two second-half goals inside, was fouled in a collision with Paris’ Xavier Dupree.
Deng had a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity and the chance to give Lee a tie with 46 seconds left in the game, but his shot bounced off the rim and Bocoum pulled down the rebound. At a time when all the rebounds seemed to be going Lee’s way, that was huge.
Paris went into a four-corner delay game, and the Rebels were forced to foul. The Dragons made 5-of-6 free throws from there on in to preserve the victory.
Austin made one of two free throws with 33 seconds to play to make it a 3-point game at 74-71, then added two more free throws with 14 seconds to play.
Dickerson was fouled with one second to play and sank two more free throws for the final score.
Taylor was pleased by how Austin and Trevon Seymore ran the offense, but he was ecstatic about the play inside by White and Bocoum.
“It’s good to have Ronnie White back, no doubt. I’m a big Ronnie White fan and I’m glad he’s getting back healthy. He’s not completely there yet, but he’[s getting back healthy,” Taylor said.
“Nom (Bocoum) did a great job. He had some really good minutes, made some big buckets for us, and made a big free throw down the stretch and got a big rebound,” Taylor said.
“Joe Haynes, Xavier Dupree and Keith Shivers all gave us some good minutes today,” Taylor said. “It was just an overall team victory.”
In other Region 14 men’s games Saturday:
PARIS (12-4, 5-1) — Jovan Austin 7-14 7-9 23, Ronnie White 7-7 0-0 14, Delvin Dickerson 3-6 4-4 13, Nouhoum Bocoum 5-9 1-2 11, Joe Haynes 3-6 0-0 7, Trevon Seymore 1-5 2-6 4, Keith Shivers 2-5 0-0 4, Xavier Dupree 1-5 0-0 2, Qua Doster 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Scott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-57 14-21 78.
LEE (6-7, 3-3) – Trahson Burrell 6-17 5-6 21, Fred Richardson 5-15 6-7 16, Deng Deng 5-19 0-1 12, Branden Jenkins 3-9 1-1 7, Aric Dickerson 2-3 0-0 6, Tim Coleman 0-0 3-6 3, Cavon Baker 1-2 0-0 2, Bertrand Nkali 1-7 0-4 2, Dennis Lawton 1-2 0-0 2, Adam Ward 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 24-77 15-25 71.
Halftime: Paris 49, Lee 35. Three-Pointers: Paris 6-11 (Austin 2-3, Dickerson 3-3, Haynes 1-2, Seymore 0-1, Dupree 0-2); Lee 8-23 (Burrell 4-8, Richardson 0-4, Deng 2-4, Jenkins 1-2, Dickerson 1-2, Nkali 0-2, Ward 0-1). Rebounds: Paris 39 (Austin 8, Bocoum 7); Lee 53 (Richardson 12, Deng 9). Assists: Paris 11 (Dickerson 3, Haynes 3, Seymore 3); Lee 12 (Coleman 4). Turnovers: Paris 16 (Haynes 4, Seymore 4); Lee 15 (Deng 3, Richardson 2). Blocked Shots: Paris 2 (Austin 1, Bocoum 1); Lee 3 (Nkali 2, Deng 1). Steals: Paris 9 (Seymore 4); Lee 5 (Richardson 2). Fouls: Paris 17; Lee 17. Fouled Out: None. Technicals: D. Dickerson.