With 7.2 seconds showing on the clock, Milton coach Allen Whiteheart leaned over, put his hands on his knees and took a deep sigh of relief. As the well-established team to beat all season, he may have been holding that breath since the season began.

Milton, ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation, finished its season-long mission with a 52-47 win over Berkmar to win the Class 7A championship at the Macon Coliseum. It was the school’s third state title and first since 2012.

“It been an unbelievably rough year for multiple reasons,” Whiteheart said. “The resilience these kids have fought with, with the target on their back all year. We came in No. 1 and we ran the table. We ran the table from start to finish.

“It has nothing to do with me, it has everything to do with kids who listen and want to be coached and want to play at a high level.”

The Eagles won the championship with a solid defensive finish. They outscored Berkmar 14-6 in the fourth quarter, with Kanaan Carlyle making 8 of 10 free throws in the final 5:17. Carlyle scored a game-high 15 points, nine coming at the line, and had five rebounds and two assists.

“He’s a worker,” Whiteheart said. “He’s all about winning. He competes every day and good things come to those who work hard and believe.”

Milton (28-2) also got 12 points and five rebounds from Bruce Thornton and 12 points and nine rebounds from Lebbeus Overton. It was Overton who scored three consecutive baskets that helped Milton take a 44-43 lead which it never relinquished.

“We haven’t been down that much this year,” Carlyle said. “But when we are, we stick together as a team. We knew there was a target on our back and we had to finish the drill.”

Berkmar (25-6) got 11 points and 10 rebounds from Dara Olonade, 11 points from Destin Logan and nine points from Jameel Rideout.

Berkmar made it a one-point game when Mauque Ewin scored on a putback to make it 48-47 with 18.8 seconds left. But Carlyle calmly made two free throws with 17.4 to restore the three-point lead.

Carlyle said, “They were huge. Coach always tells me to forget my misses and keep my brain so I can hit those free throws.”

But Berkmar had the ball knocked away by Broc Bidwell on its next possession, with Carlyle grabbing the loose ball and drawing a foul. He made the first free throw to push the margin to four points and Berkmar had run out of miracles.

“Mental toughness. Locking in. Doing what our culture preaches every day,” Whiteheart said. “Its all about the team and doing your job.”

Milton – 16-11-11-14 – 52

Berkmar – 16-13-12-6—47

Milton: Bruce Thornton 12, Broc Bidwell 3, Kanaan Carlyle 15, Kendall Campbell 6, Lebbeus Overton 12, Cam Walker 4.

Berkmar: Jermahri Hill 6, Destin Logan 11, Jameel Rideout 9, Dara Olonade 11, Malique Ewin 6, Ja’Ron Ford 2, Jalen Harris 2.

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