Eagles win back-to-back state championships

Published 10:26 pm Saturday, March 2, 2024

No. 2 Amite had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter with a seven-point lead, but No. 1 Rosepine rallied to win 50-46 and claim its second consecutive LHSAA nonselect Division III state title on Saturday at the University Center in Hammond.

Amite (29-6) was up 44-37 midway through the fourth quarter but made just one field goal the rest of the way, and the Eagles (31-5) capitalized turnovers to go on a game-changing 13-2 run.

Kelly Norris, the game MVP, had two big steals that led to points during the run. None was bigger than her layup and free throw with 37 seconds left off a steal to give the Eagles a 47-46 lead. Norris finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds and four steals.

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“At first I was kind of down,” Norris said. “I knew not to give up.

“I saw a chance, we got a steal. So I got it and I just threw it up…and I was like ‘Oh my God!” and I knew I just had to make my free throw. “I am just really glad that we won. I don’t care about anything else.”

Rosepine is the first team to win back-to-back titles as a No. 1 seed since LaGrange did it in 2020 and 2021. The Eagles finished the season on a 22-game win streak.

“When we came out in the fourth quarter, all I told them is we have eight minutes,” Rosepine head coach Charles Kiely said. “I have four seniors that have worked their tails off.

“I said that every rep we have done in conditioning, every shot that we put up this is what it is for. These last eight minutes. You give me what you have, and good things are going to happen.”

Norris is one of four seniors, including Addison Fruge, Kailea Blankenbaker and Addison Fruge, who have been the Eagles’ nucleus that helped produce three consecutive trips to the state tournament. Fruge finished with 13 points and six rebounds,

Blankenbaker had nine points and eight rebounds and Rivera added seven points.

“Since the summer, we have been working hard,” Rivera said. “Our goal this year was to get another state championship.

“Having that target on our back to get it again, it is just like we had to get it. We had to be state champs again. All the support just helped us keep going during the games.”

Rosepine entered the final quarter down 39-35.

“(Coach told us) not to give up,” Fruge said. “We worked all year for this, and we came out strong.

“Any game in basketball, you are going to get a run. Each team is going to get a run. We just knew if they got a run, we can’t give up. And we didn’t obviously.”

Amite’s Hai’ley Brumfield led all scorers with 22 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out in the closing seconds.

Amite led 23-17 with two minutes left in the second quarter, but the Eagles got a three from Norris and Blakenbaker. Then with 14 seconds left in the first half, Blakenbaker scored on a putback to tie the game at 25-25.