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JACKSON — With most of the attention on Florence and Holmes County Central, the hype around the first 5A boys semifinal between New Hope and Picayune kind of flew under the radar headed into the second day at the MHSAA Basketball Championships.

But anyone who watched New Hope’s 62-54 win over the Maroon Tide isn’t sleeping on the Trojans anymore – not after the Capital City got a look at Caleb Parr and L.J. Hackman.

After the two teams played to a tie in the first three quarters, the duo showed up and showed out in the fourth, helping the Trojans reach the title game for the first time since 2018.

They will face Holmes County Central in the championship round at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Caleb is one of the best players in the state and he’s come through in similar situations all year,” New Hope coach Drew McBrayer said. “L.J. had back-to-back steals and quick buckets to give us the spark, then Caleb closed it out.”

Picayune put up a heckuva fight for the first 28 minutes or so. The two teams were tied 13-13 after the first quarter, and New Hope held a slim 28-23 lead at the half. The Maroon Tide (19-9) flat out-played the Trojans in the third quarter — at one point, leading by seven points — but the two teams went into the fourth tied at 45-45.

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That’s when the New Hope (22-2) got it going.

Tyquantez Crowell got things going with a layup to give New Hope the lead, then Parr hit a couple of free throws. After Dakeith Quinn hit a layup for Picayune, Hackman got the back-to-back steals and easy buckets, the second one a slam dunk that inspired Picayune coach Eric Vianney to take a timeout.

Parr got an old-fashioned three-point play on the next New Hope possession to put the Trojans ahead 56-49, and it was all downhill from there.

Parr made all seven of his free throw attempts in the game, including the last four in the fourth to put it away.

“I’ve been in that position a lot, so it’s sort of second nature,” Parr said. “L.J.’s steals were huge for us because we needed something to get us going. Once we got it back where we wanted it, it was just a matter of closing it out.”

Hackman finished with 18 points and a team-high six rebounds for New Hope. Parr scored 15. Issac Grady scored 10 and the Trojans recorded 11 steals as a team.

Picayune lost despite shooting 51 percent (23 of 45) from the floor. Charles-Anthony Isaac led the Maroon Tide with 16 points and nine rebounds. Jaheim Everett chipped in 10 and Dakeith Quinn scored 10 more off the bench.