Coming out of the locker room at halftime Columbus’ Robert Woodard told teammate Denijay Harris to step up in the second half.
Behind Harris’ big second half performance the Falcons were able to hold Meridian 47-37 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 6A State Championship for the second time in the last years at the Mississippi Coliseum on Saturday night.
It is Columbus’ second state title in school history.
“The kids have been through a lot of adversity through these last nine months and so proud of the guys for pulling this thing out,” said first year Columbus coach Anthony Carlyle, who also won four state titles at Velma Jackson.
“We told the guys it was going to be a heavyweight fight and it was. If we could just keep swinging in that last quarter we would pull it out. People kept telling in 3A I wasn’t a good coach cause of having Quinndary and Nick and to now win one in 6A to show I am a coach is great.”
Harris, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, would pour in a game-high 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds, had two assists and two steals to lead Columbus and was named the games Most Valuable Player.
Harris would score 18 of Columbus’ last 20 points and had stretch of 16 in a row from the end of third and beginning of the fourth quarter. His buzzer beating three-pointer at the end of third quarter gave the Falcons the lead for good at 32-29.
“I had to come out and step up. The three-pointer was huge to give us the momentum,” Harris said. “Keep the confidence up and never get down. That’s what coach always preaches. To go out a champion my senior year is great.”
Mississippi State signee Robert Woodard would have 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for Columbus (27-6).
“I did what I had to do, but Denijay stepped up in the biggest game of the season for us and helped us pull it out,” Woodard said. “I had to step as leader of this team this year and to go out like this is a dream come true.”
Miles Miller had 16 points to lead Meridian, while Tyron Brewer had 10 points for the Wildcats (32-2).