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FLOWOOD — In years past, it was the opponent who would jump on to a big lead against Northwest Rankin come playoff time.

But this isn't your typical NWR team, and the Cougars flipped the script Saturday night at home.

Behind a strong start, the Cougars beat Gulfport 52-44 in the Second Round of the MHSAA Boys Class 6A playoffs.

Northwest Rankin (22-7) will host rival Brandon next Saturday night in the third round of the Class 6A playoffs with a trip to the Mississippi Coliseum on the line.

MORE: Check out the complete MHSAA 6A Tournament Bracket here

Brandon beat Northwest Rankin twice in the regular season.

“We got off to a good start, did a good job rebounding and played the style we wanted to play,” said Northwest Rankin coach Joshua Luckett. “We’ve been playing with a lot of energy and anytime we can come out and jump on teams early in the game we have success.”

The Cougars came out firing with a 10-3 lead to begin the game and held a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Northwest Rankin opened the second quarter on a 12-3 run to extend their lead to 29-12 and was up 33-20 at halftime.

The third quarter was back and forth, but the Cougars went on a quick 6-0 run midway through to take a 44-27 lead, but Gulfport scored the final six points of the quarter to cut the lead to 44-33 heading into the fourth quarter.

Gulfport went on a 9-4 run to cut the Northwest Rankin lead to 48-42 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, but a turnover and pair of Cougar free throws from Mar’Kavian Evans with just under two minutes left helped ice the game.

“We need to keep playing at a high level and getting out to a fast start,” Luckett said. “We will be ready for Saturday night because we know it’s going to be tough, but best part is we’re at home.”

LeVionne Lindsey had a game-high 22 points to lead Northwest Rankin.

“It was good team win. Got off to a good start and was able to close out at the end,” Lindsey said. “We knew coming in they were bigger than us, so we just had to keep running and keep the pace up. Just doing what we got to do to get to the coliseum.”

Zarius Gill had 12 points to lead Gulfport. The Admirals finished the season 20-12.

“We got off to a slow start and that’s been a issue for us all year,” said Gulfport coach Owen Miller. “Give Northwest Rankin credit. They’re a really good team and physical.”