Laurel comes through in 2nd half to beat Rockets in 5A finals
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:00 PM
JACKSON – The 2016-2017 basketball season came to a disappointing end for the Neshoba Central Rockets as they dropped an 85-76 decision to the Laurel Golden Tornadoes in the finals of the Class 5A Boys State Tournament.
Neshoba Cemtral's Chayton York (3) drives around Laurel's Charles Winston (1) on Friday, March 10 in the MHSAA C Spire State Basketball Championships at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
The Rockets finished with a 25-4 record. The game was played Friday night in the Mississippi Coliseum.
“It was the championship game and it was a significant loss that hurts right now,” Coach Jerry Byrd said afterwards. “But in time, we look back and realize that this team accomplished a lot of things over the season.
“I want to thank our seniors for all that they put into this program. They have set the standard for teams to come.”
This wrapped up Neshoba Central’s first trip to Jackson to participate in the state tournament in recent memory. For Laurel, it was the second state championship in as many years.
The Rockets went up 20-10 at the end of the first quarter. Laurel battled back in the early minutes of the second quarter and made it a three point game – 24-21 – with 4:09 left in the half.
Powered by goals by Chayton York, Bobby Anderson and Justus Day, the Rockets went up 30-23 with 3:05 remaining in the half. And again Laurel came back as they outscored the Rockets 12-5 in the time before the half. At the break, the score was tied at 35-35.
Laurel was gaining the momentum in the third quarter. They tied the game three times in the final two minutes of play. With two seconds left in the period, Je Vah Jones sank three free throws to give the Tornadoes a 55-52 lead going into the final period. Laurel would never trail again.
Jones sank a basket to put Laurel up 57-52 early in the fourth quarter. Day and T.J. Ben each scored a basket that brought Neshoba Central to within one point – 57-56 – with 6:58 left in the game. In the next three minutes, Laurel would outscore Neshoba Central 13-2 and took a 72-59 lead with 3:48 left. The Tornadoes held on for the victory.
Day scored 32 points to lead the Tornadoes. Ed-Rigo Harrinton added 13 points while York and Anderson both scored 11. Ben scored nine points.
Jones scored 28 points to lead the Tornadoes while Crosby added 18.
Laurel finished the season with a 25-4 record.
Neshoba Central 74
The Neshoba Central Rockets were too much for the Clarksdale Wildcats as they won 74-57 in the semifinals Tuesday night.
Neshoba Central held a 36-35 lead at the half. But they pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 18-4. Going into the final quarter, the Rockets led 54-41. The Rockets continued to increase their lead in the fourth quarter as they took the victory.
Point guard Chayton York led his team with 23 points while Justus Day and Bobby Anderson each added 17 and T.J. Ben scored 13 points.