Behind the play of Caleb Rawls in the fourth quarter East Marion rallied past Okolona 58-53 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 1A State Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Mississippi Coliseum.
It is the Eagles (27-5) first state title in school history.
“Just reflecting on the season when I only had most of the guys for three months because we did so well in football. Just had to stay at level of emotions, so my guys didn’t see me panic during the game,” said East Marion coach Calvin Brown. “It was more about intensity of the game and momentum shifts. The kids just made plays for us. We are good at making plays and not running plays.”
Okolona led for majority of the game.
The Chieftains held a slim a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but East Marion would end the first half on a 14-2 run to go up 26-23 at halftime.
To open the second half Okolona went on a 10-0 run to go up 33-26 and ended the third quarter up 40-36.
With a little over minute left in the fourth quarter East Marion would take the lead at 52-50 on a lay-up by Caleb Rawls.
The Eagles would hit six of eight free throws in the final seconds of the game to put the game away.
Okolona only managed to make one field goal in the fourth quarter.
“When guys are paying the price and have to fight through adversity during the game shows their character and they came out champions,” Brown said. “First state title for East Marion and these guys earned it.”
Flenard McLin had 20 points to lead East Marion and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Caleb Rawls added 12 points for East Marion, while John Rawls chipped in 11 points and Vashon Sims had 10 points for Eagles.
“This feeling is undescribed,” Rawls said. “They beat us last year, so we had to get pay back.”
Jamal Moore had 23 points to lead Okolona, while Jalen McFarland added 10 points for Chieftains (29-3).