When Eagle’s Landing was erasing a 10-point halftime deficit and building a six-point lead in the third quarter, a sense of dread was spreading throughout some of the Kell fans at the Macon Coliseum.

But those white-knuckle moments never carried over to the Kell basketball team. After enduring the 24-10 third-quarter battering, the Longhorns navigated their own turnaround and came away with a 61-53 win in the Class 5A championship game.

The win was the first state championship for the Kell boys and came only a couple hours after the school’s girls team won its first championship.

“We’ve faced that situation quite a few times against some good teams,” Kell coach Jermaine Sellers said. “I just told them we’ve been here before, so just settle down, let’s get and it’s going to start on the defensive end. We had to get stops, execute our offense and we’ll be fine.”

Kell led 33-23 at halftime and stretched the lead to 37-23 when 7-footer Peyton Marshall opened the third quarter with a pair of dunks to make it a 14-point game. That’s when Eagle’s Landing, behind senior David Thomas, kicked things into gear.

Thomas, a Mercer signee, scored eight straight points and Chris Morris added four more. After a pair of Kell free throws, the Eagles went on a 12-2 run and had a 47-41 lead.

That’s when Kell’s C.J. Brown called out his teammates for being too individualistic and encouraged them to return to the team concept. From that point Kell began to have its way again.

Brown scored the next three baskets and Marshall, an Auburn commit, put the Longhorns ahead to stay with a hoop to make it 52-51. Marshall tacked on three more points and made a key defensive play when he slapped away a pass that led to a score on the other end.

“That’s just C.J. taking coaching,” Sellers said. “He’s heard that before and he recited it to his guys.”

Kell (28-2) was led by Brown with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Cannon Richards, who did outstanding work when Marshall got in foul trouble, added 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Marshall finished with nine points in 16 minutes.

Eagle’s Landing (29-2) got 23 points from all-state forward Thomas, who added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kenneth Brayboy scored 12 points with six rebounds and five blocks.

“It didn’t feel like I was playing with schoolmates. It felt like I was playing with my brothers,” Brown said.

Kell (61)

Parrish Johnson Jr. 4, Jaylon Colon 5, C.J. Brown 22, Cannon Richards 11, Peyton Marshall 9, Isaiah Wood 2, Aaron Smith 5, Julius Strahorn, Connor Staphylaris 3.

Eagle’s Landing (53)

Kylan McKennie, Clark Masten 4, Kenneth Brayboy 12, Chris Morris 8, David Thomas 23, Tylon Redmond 2, Elijah Robinson 4, Tyson Morell.

Kell – 18-15-10-18 -- 61

Eagle’s Landing – 10-13-24-6 -- 53