Another state title heading back to the Golden Triangle.
Behind the play of Zeke Cook and a late fourth quarter run the Yellowjackets was able to get past Meridian 61-46 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 6A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Saturday night.
It is Starkville’s (30-1) fourth state title in school history and first since 2015.
“Meridian is a tough team and very well coached. I told the guys before the game we got to be the tougher team,” said Starkville coach Greg Carter. “Zeke has come a long way as a basketball player and winning this for the seniors that are like my own kids is special.”
After the first quarter ended with the game tied at 9, Starkville opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run to go up 18-11 and ended the first half up 22-15.
In the third quarter the Yellowjackets would build a 15-point lead at 38-23, but Meridian closed the quarter on a 11-0 run with Starkville up 38-34.
With Starkville up 44-40 midway through the fourth quarter the Jackets would go on a 11-3 run to go up 55-43 and pull away.
“I told the guys before the game that this game will have runs and every time, they have a run we got to stay calm and bounce back and respond and that’s what we did,” Carter said. “We knew this team could get the job done in January when we started peaking. Before the season I didn’t think we could, but the kids worked hard and got the job done.”
Zeke Cook would have a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds to lead Starkville and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I just had to do what I had to do to get it done,” Cook said. “I’ve come a long way as a player and when things go hard bounce back up and I did that, and it paid off.”
Tyler Talley added 12 points for Starkville, while Atavius Jones chipped in 11 points for the Yellowjackets.
“This feeling never gets old and as a team we had a bet for about a month that if we won a state championship I got to dunk,” Carter said. “I think I still do it.”
Traemond Pittman had 13 points to lead Meridian, while Makeem Roberts and Vontrell Pringle each added 11 points for the Wildcats (26-5), who was in the 6A state title game for a third straight season.