LAKE CHARLES – The Thibodaux Tigers scored the last 10 points of the game in a 70-60 win over Walker in the Class 5A state championship game, earning the first state title in program history.
Kobi Johnson made two free throws with 1:28 left to give the Tigers the lead for good at 62-60. The Tigers (33-2) then held Walker scoreless on six-straight possessions and went 8 of 10 from the free-throw line to seal the win.
Johnson was named game Most Valuable Player after scoring 18 points and adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
He led four Tigers in double figures as Rashod Robinson scored 15, Marvin Robertson added 13 and Rashad Winslow added 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Walker (24-10) got big games from starters Brian Thomas (29 points) and Jalen Cook (19), but could not match Thibodaux’s energy or execution down the stretch.
“It just shows what hard work can do,” said Tigers coach Tony Clark. “The big push at the end, I think it has a lot to do with conditioning. Not many teams run the way we do, and it paid off. All
year, the fourth quarter has been our quarter.”
That was the case Saturday night as the Tigers entered the fourth quarter trailing by six.
Thibodaux exploded for 30 points in the quarter, taking its first lead since the opening basket of the game on a 3-pointer by Robinson with 4:12 left to make the score 53-52.
It was a one-possession game for the next three minutes before the Tigers pulled away in the last 90 seconds.
Cook, who scored 37 points in Walker’s semifinal win, was held to 6 of 18 shooting by Johnson.
“All day Friday, I watched film on him,” Johnson said. “I wanted the challenge and I was ready. All everybody was talking about was Jalen, but after tonight they will be talking about Kobi Paul Johnson.”
Robinson said Clark deserved the credit for leading Thibodaux to its best-ever season, which ended with 18 straight wins.
“We talked about winning the state championship and worked for it, but he is the one who made us believe we can do it. He was the one who was the mastermind behind everything,” Robinson said.
Thomas scored 20 points in the first half as the Wildcats took a 37-30 lead into the break.
“Cook and Thomas are both great players, I thought we did a good job of defending Cook, but then Thomas started making threes, something we were not expecting,” Clark said. “We had to make some adjustments for that. We were behind most of the way, but the kids just kept coming
Robinson kept the championship trophy next to him during the postgame press conference and promised not to let it get too far away.
“I might have to take it to class with me,” he said.
Johnson said the Tiger senior class was determined to leave a legacy.
“We said we wanted to go down as the best team in Thibodaux history,” he said. “Now we have the state championship forever.”