Skip to main content

CARTHAGE — It came down to who made a big shot, and like so many other times this season, it was Leake Central who answered the bell.

Avontae Jones hit a three pointer with just over three minutes left and the Gators held on to beat Choctaw Central 58-55 in overtime in a critical Region 4-4A matchup on Friday night.

The win clinched the regular season district championship for Leake Central (19-1, 8-0 Region 4-4A) and the No. 1 seed in the Region 4-4A division tournament in two weeks that will be held at Kosciusko.

“This is twice that both of our games with Choctaw have gone to overtime," Leake Central coach Carl Wilbanks said. "In the first game, I thought both teams played pretty bad, but tonight, both teams played pretty good. Choctaw is a solid team and this was a big win for us.”

Leake Central came out firing in the first quarter as the Gators ended the opening period on a 11-3 run to take a 18-8 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, Choctaw Central went on a 14-3 run to cut the Gators lead down to one point at 23-22. Leake Central held a slim 29-28 lead at halftime.

In the second half, it was more back and forth.

In the third quarter, Choctaw Central stormed back and took a 41-35 lead midway through, but Leake Central ended the quarter on a 8-2 run to tie the game at 43-43.

In the fourth quarter and with 43 seconds left and the game tied 53-53, Leake Central held the ball until six seconds left, when Ca’Lexis Campbell’s potential game winning three-point shot bounced off the rim and sent the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Jones hit the three-pointer with just three minutes left and Campbell hit a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left to give the Gators a 58-53 lead, and they held on from there.

“It was a back and forth all night," Wilbanks said. "We got the lead and they missed, and we came down and we wanted to run clock. It was a great basketball game. We haven’t been playing well the last couple games, and I thought we peaked too early, but we played well tonight and need to keep this going heading into the district tournament.”

Campbell had a game-high 22 points to lead Leake Central, while Jones and Anthony Hopkins each had 11 points for the Gators.

“We came out strong in the first half, but we played well defensively the whole game and that was big,” Campbell said. “When we got into overtime and got the lead, (we just needed to) hold the ball and play defense and that’s what happened.”

Thomas Tangle had 15 points to lead Choctaw Central, while Hayden Jones added 12 points for the Warriors (21-4, 5-3).

“It’s always a battle when we play each other and down the stretch things didn’t go our way,” said Choctaw Central coach Brent Farmer. “Defensively, we’re not where we need to be and we got to get that fixed, but we will learn from this and get better.”

In the girls game, Choctaw Central beat Leake Central 91-43.