Olive Branch state champs

Olive Branch celebrates its state 5A championship after a 64-44 victory over Forest Hill Friday night in Jackson.  

For the first time in DeSoto County high school boys' basketball history, a state championship Gold Ball trophy has come back to the county.  

The Olive Branch Conquistadors finished a 28-4 season in a convincing way with a 64-44 title-clinching win over Forest Hill Friday night at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

Only Horn Lake in 1985 had ever reached the state championship game but were unsuccessful in winning a championship for DeSoto County until Friday night.  

"I haven't seen any banners up any where," coach Eric Rombaugh said. "If this is the first one, that makes it even more special. DeSoto County has some really good basketball with some really good coaches, so for us to be able to represent DeSoto County, it's a blessing." 

D.J. Jeffries again led the way for the Quistors with a game high 20 points. While lone senior Kelvin Allen was held to just nine points for the game, Joee Cooper added 11 points and Cameron Matthews scored 10 more.

Keondre Montgomery led Forest Hill with 12 points and Marc Evans added 10 more. 

"It was executing the game plan," Jeffries said about his team's play. "Getting my mind set, come out here and do what coach wanted me to do."

Olive Branch took a five-point lead to the first quarter break at 14-9 and extended it to a 28-20 lead at halftime. 

In that second quarter, the Quistors opened play with the first four points to extend the lead to 18-9 before Forest Hill could answer. The Patriots would come back and get within 20-16 before the Quistors would return the lead to 24-16. 

The Patriots came back with 25-20 before a late three-pointer gave Olive Branch the eight-point halftime advantage. 

Jeffries led Olive Branch in scoring at halftime with nine points and Joshua Stevenson added five more.

Meanwhile, Forest Hill was led by Keondre Montgomery's seven points in the first 16 minutes of play.

The eight-point lead quickly ballooned to a 50-29 margin after three quarters, keyed by a Jeffries slam dunk after he hit a three-pointer to jolt the Quistors into a run that ended the quarter with a 22-9 margin over the Patriots in the period.

Forest Hill, which ended the year 26-7, barely outscored Olive Branch in the final frame by a 15-14 margin.

"We've been battled tested this year and we were built for this," Rombaugh said. "We've got the guards, we got the posts, we got the size and the shooters."

The was especially sweet for the Allen, the only player not returning to the team next season as he graduates in May.

"We came out and we executed," Allen said. "I've been waiting four years and it feels great. I shed tears of joy."

Box score

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. 

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