Class 4A boys: North Oconee 65, Holy Innocents’ 60

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

MACON -- It was a dramatic moment when Byrd Carter swished a 3-pointer to tie the game for North Oconee in the third quarter. No one realized it was the foundation of a championship.

And then the 3-point magic happened again and again and again – three straight 3s from freshman Justin Wise – that led to a 14-0 run that propelled No. 3-ranked North Oconee to a 65-60 win over No. 4 Holy Innocents’ Wednesday in the Class 4A championship game.

It was the first state championship for the Titans.

“That’s the way we’ve been all year,” Wise said. “We came out at halftime and we were down four and we started shooting the ball and it started going in and from there on we kept the lead. “I was just trying to do everything I could to get our seniors and coach Rasmussen a state championship. We worked hard on it every day. "

After North Oconee’s 14-0 run gave the Titans a 44-33 lead with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter, Holy Innocents’ roared back behind five-star junior Caleb Wilson. He scored seven points – going 7-for-8 from the line – the rest of the period and the Bears cut the lead to 45-40.

Holy Innocents’ got as close as three points on four occasions, the last with 41 seconds remaining. But the Bears drew a technical foul with 19.2 seconds left and J.P. Payne made the free throw to make it a two-possession game.

Payne added two more free throws and Khamari Brooks hit a pair to put the game out of reach.

North Oconee's basketball team holds the championship trophy after beating Holy Innocents 65-60 for the Class 4A title, March 6, 2024.

Credit: Stan Awtrey

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Credit: Stan Awtrey

North Oconee (30-3) got 20 points and six rebounds from Carter, 19 points from Wise, 14 points and six rebounds from Brooks and nine rebounds from Evan Montgomery.

“Khamari Brooks stepped up and played great defense,” North Oconee coach Rick Rasmussen said. “Our veteran guards made big plays. All five of our starters made big plays.”

Holy Innocents’ (26-7) was led by Wilson with 26 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks, and sophomore Devin Hutcherson with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

“It was incredible,” Rasmussen said. “This is my 19th season and I think this is the best group we’ve every had and for them to finish it off and get what we felt like they deserved.”

Click here for the official box score.