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The sixth-ranked Casper College men’s basketball team kept its championship hopes alive Friday with a 104-97 victory over Western Nebraska Community College in the semifinals of the Region IX tournament in Sheridan.

The Thunderbirds (31-2) led by double digits in the second half, but the Cougars battled back to make it a one-possession game late. Casper College sophomore point guard Isaac Bonton gave the T-Birds some breathing room with a step-back 3-pointer with just over 1 minute remaining.

After Western Nebraska hit three frows, Bonton and then sophomore Amin Adamu sealed the victory at the free-throw line.

Bonton scored a season-high 41 points to lead five players in double figures. Wilfried Likayi added 19, Adamu 15, Zion Tordoff 14 and Broc Finstuen 13.

Nebraska commit Jervay Green had 38 points for the Cougars, but was only 5 of 15 from the free-throw line.

Casper College is in the Region IX championship game for the first time in three years and will face the winner of Friday’s late game between Sheridan College and xxx.

The T-Birds now have won the second-most games in program history. Only the 1997-98 team (36-4) that finished fifth at the NJCAA Championships won more.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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