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Phillips wins first state title since 1975

Mar. 9—HOT OFF THE PRESS

Chicago Phillips brings home the Class 2A state title@IHSA_IL @CPLAthletics@ChiPubSchools pic.twitter.com/TqQ1J3bHUY

— News-Gazette Preps (@ngpreps) March 9, 2024

The top player was ... a toss-up among Lawrence Horton, Amari Edwards and Phoenix Childs, who each registered similar impacts for the Wildcats to clinch the program's first state championship since 1975. Horton led the way with 13 points to edge Edwards' and Childs' contributions of 12 points apiece while also adding seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Childs matched Horton in rebounds and steals while assisting on two scores of his own, while Edwards collected five rebounds and dished a pair of assists. Claude Mpouma tallied six rebounds for the Wildcats to help their cause on the glass, while Benton was paced by Isaac Billington's

* line of 19 points, two assists and two rebounds.

The key moment was ... more or less the entire fourth quarter for Phillips, which held the ball for the final 70 seconds of the third quarter to preserve a 37-36 lead ahead of the game's final eight minutes. That strategy proved to be a successful one. Benton's Docker Tedeschi missed a half-court shot at the tail end of the third quarter before the Wildcats finished the game with a 17-11 scoring edge.

Lawrence Hortin chucks the ball to the sky as Phillips captures a 2A state title 54-47 over Benton. https://t.co/SYq7YEDTas pic.twitter.com/14cn3FRwBM

— Zach Piatt (@zachpiatt13) March 9, 2024

By the numbers ...

* Phillips didn't take as many shots (46) as Benton did (57) but was more effective from the field, converting 23 of those shots as opposed to the Rangers' 20 makes. Phillips also made four of its nine three-point attempts and held the Rangers to a 2-of-15 mark from beyond the arc. Phillips led for nearly 27 of the game's 32 minutes, while Benton led for just 1:49 in a game that had a total of three ties and four lead changes. Phillips won the rebounding contest 34-27, though the Rangers assisted on 11 shots compared to the Wildcats' 10.

What Phillips said ... "These boys have been working all year since they came together. I would say that I feel that Chicago as a whole that, speaking on other coaches and other programs in the city, that kids just need an opportunity to play. You look at these guys, I inherited them from coaches and programs that didn't believe in their talents and skill sets. I did my best to bring them all together, made them blend as a family, and we got us a state title. They all believed in each other to get us a state title this year. ... These guys here, I'm just so proud to be a part of every legacy that they're building for themselves." — coach Paris Martin

What Benton said ... "I think these guys, their legacy will be when you looked in the stands (on Saturday), people from southern Illinois were cheering for these guys. They're a testament to hard work and dedication to what we want to do. ... Unfortunately, we came up just a little bit short of that, but I will never be able to express my gratitude to this team properly. But I'm thankful for everything they did." — coach Ron Winemiller