JACKSON, MS (WDAM) _ East Marion High School won its first boys basketball championship as the Eagles dethroned defending Class 1A champion Okolona High School 58-52 Thursday afternoon at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Sophomore forward Caleb Rawls hit four free throws in the final 12 seconds to help the Eagles (27-5) extend their winning streak to 23 consecutive games.
East Marion has not lost a basketball game since Dec. 7, 2018.
“We believed we were truly champions, and (Thursday), we proved it,” East Marion coach Calvin Brown said.
Okolona (29-2) led 10-7 after one quarter, and built the lead to nine points, 21-12, in the second period.
But the Eagles clawed back, putting together a 14-2 run down the stretch of the half to take a 26-23 halftime lead.
East Marion sophomore guard Vashon Sims scored on a reverse layup for a 24-23 lead and Rawls popped in a pair of free throws for the three-point halftime edge.
The Chieftans, who also came into the game having won 22 consecutive games, opened the second half on a 10-0 and looked to have the Eagles teetering.
But East Marion steadied itself, scoring the next three points to cut its deficit to four points, which is where it stayed going into the final period.
But after being outscored 17-10 in the third quarter, the Eagles turned the tables, topping Okolona 22-13 in the final eight minutes of the game.
East Marion senior guard Flenard McLin was named C-Spire Player of the Game after scoring 20 points and grabbing five rebounds. Caleb Rawls added 12 points and eight rebounds, senior forward John Rawls had 11 points and seven rebounds and Sims wound up with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Okolona got 23 points and 10 rebounds from senior Jamal Moore and 10 points and seven rebounds from senior Jalen McFarland. Senior Tre Harvey was selected C-Spire Scholarship Athlete of the Game.