Cutting down the nets – BA boys win state title 33-30
Brookhaven Academy’s Cougars outscored Marshall Academy 33-30 Saturday night to clench the Class AA State Championship for the first time since 2010.
Brookhaven took a low-scoring lead 11-8 in the first quarter and went into halftime two points ahead of Marshall. BA only added four points to their total in the third quarter but only allowed Marshall two points. The Cougars kept their lead over the Patriots throughout the fourth quarter and took home the win by a mere three points.
“I’m excited for this. It’s an absolute great feeling,” said junior Cade Brown. “Now we’ve got to get ready for overall and look forward to that game.”
Rarely do young kids get to make history for their school. They can go undefeated in every game and have an excellent run in their athletic careers, but the ability to dedicate and dignify a certain event as historical is nearly impossible.
The Brookhaven Academy Cougars and Lady Cougars did just that with their double victory at the Class AA State Tournament — a feat that has not been achieved in 13 years.
“I’m extremely proud for the school. I have had these kids since they were in eighth grade, and way back then they made a commitment to do this and saw it through,” said coach Josh Watts. “I can’t explain how much these kids mean to me, and no one knows how hard these kids worked. This was a big deal for me, being my first state championship, and I’m incredibly proud to share it with this group of guys.”
The game play in the finals of the state tournament exuded BA athletics at their finest and most impressive. It was not because there were constant fast breaks, larger-than-life plays and moments, or because the Cougars outmatched their opponent in skill and athletic ability. The Cougars’ sheer will power and patience that exercised their mental game — and defined their physical game — made them the team they are today.
“My head and heart are through the roof right now,” said senior Tate Felder. “I’m incredibly excited.”
It was an important night for the players, coaches and fans. After the final buzzer, the crowd burst with excitement and gave both teams a well-deserved standing ovation. Both teams were presented with trophies, and each Brookhaven team member was presented with a medal. The all-tournament players were announced, naming Brown, senior Ethan Nations, junior Dawson Flowers and senior Luke Jackson to the list.
“I couldn’t be any happier than I am right now,” Nations said. “This is all I’ve ever wanted out of my basketball career, and now it has finally come true.”
After celebrating with proud friends and family, a ladder was brought out and set up under the goal. Each player of the varsity boys’ team took turns climbing the ladder and cutting a piece of the net. Coach Watts cut the remaining net and proudly held it in the air as the entire gymnasium cheered.
“It’s a great feeling right now,” Flowers said. “Winning a championship with five of your best friends? It couldn’t get any better than that.”
Nations led BA with 14 points. Flowers, Jackson, and Brown added eight, seven, and four points, respectively. The Cougars were sent to the line for a chance at 19 extra points, making 10.
“We’ve wanted this moment since ninth grade. We never called the victory, and we remained humble the entire time,” Jackson said. “This is the dream we’ve always had, and it’s awesome to finally live it up.”
Jackson and Flowers led the Cougars in defensive play. Jackson had six rebounds and two steals, while Flowers had four assists. Brown and Felder had five and two rebounds, respectively. Nations and Flowers both had four rebounds. Brown and Flowers made one steal each. Jackson had three assists, and Brown had one assist.
“It’s a great feeling to do it with the brothers I’ve had from all the way since pee-wee up until now,” said junior Tanner Thurman. “To God be the glory!”
Senior Eli Pearson and junior Everette Jones both had nine points to lead Marshall Academy.
Brookhaven Academy moves to the Overall Tournament as the Class AA first seed. They will receive a bye in the first round and automatically move to the second.
The tournament will be held at Mississippi College, and the Cougars will play Wednesday at 7 p.m.
By: Paden Phillips