Behind a strong second half and the play of the two big men Okolona ran past Ashland 80-59 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 1A state championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Thursday afternoon.
It is the Chieftains second state title in school history and first state title since 2002.
“Just a blessing to finally get the job done,” said Okolona coach Arteria Clifton, who graduated from Okolona in 1995. “We’ve been saying redemption all year and it feels good to win it all. We came short three years ago and last year we gave up a big lead, so to finally get finish it feels great.”
Ladarius Spears would have 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots to lead Okolona and was named the games Most Valuable Player.
“Coach told us to come out and put on a show. We’ve worked hard in the gym to get to this point and it feels good,” Spears said. “Its been a long time since Okolona has won a state championship, so to finally to bring one back my senior is great.”
Okolona never trailed. The Chieftains (31-2) were up 34-26 at half and would outscore Ashland 27-15 in the third quarter to pull away.
“We wanted to establish our presence in the post early and use our size to our advantage,” Clifton said. “The guys did what we asked them to do, put a lot of points on the board and got the job done.”
Jacorrius Stanfield added 21 points for Okolona, including 21 in the second half, while Jamal Moore chipped in 20 points and Cameron Smith had eight points for the Chieftains.
“We pulled through at the end and made history that was our mind set,” said Smith who has came back from two separate knee surgeries. “We had a huge size advantage. Ledarrius had a big game and I did what I had to do to help them team out.”
DeAnthony Tipler had a game-high 28 points to lead Ashland, while Ocquavion Agyekum added 19 points for the Blue Devils (23-12), the two-time defending Class 1A state champions.