Laurel wins 5A State title

Laurel wins 5A State title
The Mississippi High School Activities Association basketball playoffs are now in the semifinal round, and eight teams from the Pine Belt are trying to play their way into championship games. (Photo source: Raycom Image Bank)

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Laurel High School captured its second state championship in as many years after defeating Neshoba Central 85-76 on Friday night.

"I just know it's not me," said Laurel head coach Marcus Price. "It's my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. God uses me as a vessel to be able to help these young men."

Despite trailing by as many as ten points, the Golden Tornadoes persevered to ultimately repeat as the class 5A state champions.

"They had a great story but I told my guys, Michael Jordan stopped a lot of guys from getting rings,'" Price said. "We don't want their story to end with a happy ending. I wanted ours to end with a happy ending."

"We stayed calm and stuck to the plan," said Laurel senior Je'vah Jones who was named the game's MVP for his team-high 28 points. "We knew it was going to pay off."

Jones was one of several Golden Tornadoes who were a part of the Laurel football team that lost to West Point in December's football state championship.

"How does it feel, December third against West Point?" Jones recalls his coaches telling him. "We didn't want to feel that again. We wanted to feel like champs."

Including Jones, four Golden Tornadoes scored in double figures. Senior Troymain Crosby added 18 points and 12 rebounds while Dontario Drummond scored 16 points. Matthew Tillman notched 15 points and 8 rebounds for Laurel.

Throughout the season, coach Price scheduled 4 a.m. workouts, reminding his team that their 2016 state title wouldn't be given but would have to be earned.

The tornadoes were feeling golden on Friday, taking home just the second gold ball in Laurel history.

"I'm sure [the gold ball]'s somewhere but it will be in my possession very shortly," Price said.