From Staff Reports
BROOKHAVEN – The East Oktibbeha boys basketball team's late-season turnaround just keeps getting sweeter.
On Thursday, the Titans defeated Sebastopol 60-50 in the second round of the Class A South State playoffs hosted by West Lincoln High School.
Casey Neal had 21 points and eight rebounds to pace East Oktibbeha, who improved to 11-18.
Davontae Lucious scored 20 points and hauled in nine rebounds for the Titans, while Chris Hunter scored 12 points with nine rebounds.
With the win, East Oktibbeha advances to play Durant today at 6 p.m. where a win would send the Titans to Jackson's Mississippi Coliseum and the Class A State Tournament.
"This is all very exciting," said Titans head coach Barnett Robinson. "It's a new experience for some and a repeated thing for others. But to come from where we were in the regular season to where we are at now is a great accomplishment. Still, our job isn't done yet. Our goal is getting to Jackson and winning that gold ball."
To get to this point, East Oktibbeha had to battle past a Sebastopol team that was up for the challenge.
Sebastopol led the Titans 13-12 after the first quarter and 23-21 at halftime. East Oktibbeha responded to take a 36-34 lead heading to the fourth quarter and out-scored Sebastopol 24-16 in the final period to cement the victory.
"We kind of played (Sebastopol's) tempo of ball in the first half," said Robinson. "We got some fouls that didn't go our way and we allowed them to dictate and take us out of our game.
"Second half, we picked it up and played ball the way we are capable of playing. We had guys come off the bench and be a big help for us. We played good defense down the stretch and made our free throws and made shots to win the ballgame."
While the Titans survived to play another day, the Lady Titans weren't as fortunate.
The East Oktibbeha girls lost a decision against hosting Bogue Chitto in their end of the Class A South State playoffs.
"(Bogue Chitto) showed up to play and we didn't," said Lady Titans head coach Randy Brooks. "We didn't play good defense, take good shots or take care of the basketball.
"We have to finish. We had a strong regular season but you have to be able to finish. A season is not a sprint, it's a marathon. We didn't finish with a district championship, south state championship or state championship. We've got a young team, we've just got to learn to finish."
The Lady Titans concluded their season with an overall record of 19-10.