JUCO basketball: One down. One to go.

Mar. 11—OTTUMWA — The classics never seem to go out of style.

Even after 42 postseason meetings, Southeastern and 10th-ranked Indian Hills proved again on Saturday they can still live up to the hype of what might be junior college basketball's best rivalry. Trailing deep in the second half with the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference tournament title on the line, the Warriors dug deep on their home floor to move one step closer to an automatic berth in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Tournament.

Braden Sparks led Indian Hills with a game-high 27 points, including a drive to the basket the ignited a game-defining 15-0 run for the Warriors with just six minutes left. Trailing by as many as eight points in the second half, Indian Hills came alive on both ends of the court when it mattered most securing a 76-68 win over the Blackhawks clinching the program's 20th regional postseason title and one final home game next Saturday night against the North Dakota State College of Science (30-1) for the NJCAA North Central District title.

"Credit to our guys for their resiliency and being able to slowly chip away," Indian Hills head men's basketball coach Josh Sash said. "We hit a couple of big shots when we were in transition. We got stops. We didn't have to do anything too crazy. It's just a credit to the toughness of our guys to be able and get this win."

The win was the third of the season for Indian Hills over Southeastern. Each one was tougher than the next as the Warriors went from a 14-point win on the road over the Blackhawks in the first meeting of the season between the teams to overcoming an early seven-point deficit in a 78-69 win just two weeks earlier.

Indian Hills got out to fast start in Saturday's regional final thanks in part to a slow shooting start for the Blackhawks. Southeastern made just one field goal in the first seven minutes of the game, allowing IHCC to build a 15-4 lead.

"We didn't make too many adjustments to the way we played them earlier in the season. We just knew we had to come out and be a hard-playing team," Sparks said. "They only way to beat a team three times in a row is to keep playing hard and crush them on glass."

While rebounds and turnovers were helping to give Indian Hills more opportunities, the Warriors also struggled to put the ball in the basket consistently throughout the first half. Indian Hills missed 12 of the 16 shots from 3-point range in the first half and were limited to 36 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes, opening the door for Southeastern to get back in the game.

The Blackhawks (19-13) looked inside to begin erasing IHCC's lead. Olajuwon Ibrahim went above the rim for a pair of dunks after Jacob Franklin found Marquiche Lewis on a cut to the basket before driving in for two points in the paint off an inbounds as part of a 10-1 Southeastern run that suddenly cut the Warrior lead down to 16-14.

"We started to really lack on the defensive end," Sash said. "When (Southeastern) started making their run, I told the guys we were going to have a battle on our hands."

The battle would continue throughout the rest of the first half as Southeastern hit shot over 50 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, outscoring IHCC 18-14 in the paint. Jaylen Lee gave the Blackhawks the lead for the first time on a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left in the half before a hook shot by David Hermes at the buzzer lifted the Warriors into a 33-33 halftime tie.

Southeastern, however, carried plenty of confidence over the second half. The Blackhawks, after making just one of three attempts from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, hit three straight 3-pointers early in the second half scoring 17 points in the first six minutes to build a 50-42 lead over the Warriors.

"We just came out lackadaisical. Everybody wasn't on point," T.J. Morris said. "We had to lock in late in the game to get the job done."

Southeastern opened a 61-55 lead with 6:34 left after a steal and breakaway lay-up by Inslee Carroll. The Blackhawks would not score another point over the next four minutes as Sparks countered the turnover with a tough drive to the basket, cutting the Blackhawk lead to 61-57.

"We just had to stay together," Sparks said. "That's just part of the next-play mentality. Mistakes are going to happen in every game. It's always about what happens on the next play. Are we going to worry about what happened on the last play or are going to continue forward?"

Indian Hills continued forward while Southeastern struggled after losing Lee, the team's starting point guard, to a knee injury with 5:49 to go. Morris drove in for a 3-point play off a feed from Sparks, cutting the Blackhawk lead to 61-60, before Davontae Hall hit his only shot from the field in the regional final sinking a deep 3-pointer that put the Warriors ahead for good with 5:03 left.

"We didn't want to lose this game on our home floor," Morris said. "We've beaten (Southeastern) twice this year, once on their home floor, so we knew they were definitely going want to be us in this one.

"When it comes down to facing a team for a third time in a season, it's all about will. We made sure they couldn't stop our will at any point."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.