For the first time in over 25 years, Madison East is the outright champion of the Big 8 Conference in boys basketball.
The Purgolders earned that achievement by digging deep and rallying from a double-digit second-half deficit to take down rival Madison La Follette on the Lancers' Senior Night by a final score of 73-66.
Madison East did it while playing short-handed. Jevan Boyton has missed the past few games, and Marcus Justice was tossed early in the second half after scoring nine points in the first 20-plus minutes of the contest. Then, Keonte Jones suffered a knee injury in the early part of the second half and had to be carried to the trainer's room. That left Madison East without three of their top five scorers on the season.
"I told the guys we needed one through 15 tonight," coach Matt Miota said after the game. "They all stepped up and rallied around one another."
Miota mentioned players like Jadyn Walsvick (six points), Michael McIntosh (seven points), and Ben Davis (two points) as being key players off the bench.
East was led in scoring by Keonte Jones, who had 21 points. Six of them came after he returned from the trainer's room, and each basket proved to be huge down the stretch as he put the Purgolders in front on an and-one play late in the game.
"I can't say enough about Keonte," said Miota. "For him to come back the way he did shows his character."
Jones scored a game-high 21 points. Miota said that Jones' grandmother had passed away the night before. "We dedicated this game to his family," said Miota.
Anthony Washington kept East within arm's reach in the second half while Jones was out and after Justice was ejected, scoring half of his 18 points on the game in the time Jones and Justice were off the floor.
La Follette led most of the game, getting double-digit scoring outputs from Troy Reeves, Ben Probst, and Derrick Gray, but couldn't stop the big rally by East down the stretch.
Here's coach Matt Miota's full postgame interview on The Big 1070:
EAST - 27|46=73
LA FOLLETTE - 34|32=66
East Scoring: Keonte Jones 21, Anthony Washington 18, Marcus Justice 9, Michael McIntosh 7, Jadyn Walsvick 6, Montae Thompson 5, David McKinley 4, Ben Davis 2.
La Follette Scoring: Troy Reeves 13, Ben Probst 13, Derrick Gray 12, Donneil Gray 9, Jaheim Ingram 7, Isiah Stewart 5, Fabious Tabor 5, Dakovin Prather 3.