sprh.0310.LandryWalker.vs.Walker-8

Walker players celebrate with students after the victory over Landry Walker in the Class 5A championship game of the LHSAA Boy's Marsh Madness State Basketball Championships at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, La., Saturday, March 10, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

LAKE CHARLES — The wait is over.

Walker is taking a basketball championship trophy back home.

Walker, with a gritty fourth-quarter effort, rallied for a thrilling 62-57 overtime victory over Landry-Walker in the Class 5A state championship game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Boys State Tournament.

"That's amazing," Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. "I think it's a little surreal for us, but it's amazing. There's no way to put that into words. All the credit to them."

It was a freshman leading the way.

Brian Thomas was named the game's Most Outstanding Player, moments after hearing "MVP chants" from a noisy Walker student section.

"It felt good," said Thomas. "I just wanted to get my team a win."

The freshman finished with 20 points and eight rebounds in a game that will be talked about around Walker for years to come. He showed poise at the line, making 8 of 11 from the free-throw line.

No. 3 Landry-Walker, seeking its fourth state title in five years, seemed well on its way. The Charging Buccaneers held what looked like a commanding 52-44 lead with just 2:03 left.

But the Wildcats (33-4) wouldn't go away.

Walker turned up the defensive intensity down the stretch and outscored Landry-Walker 9-1 to send the game to overtime.

"I'm still trying to figure out how we pulled it off there at the end," said Schiro. "Credit to these guys for not giving up. We just picked it up a notch intensity-wise. ... I told them, 'Ya'll know we can score in a hurry,' and they responded."

Walker had a chance to win the state title in regulation after forcing a turnover with 17.7 seconds left. But the Wildcats were unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded.

That didn't matter.

The Wildcats dominated in the extra period, outscoring the Charging Bucs 9-4.

Landry-Walker was going for its fourth state championship in five years after going back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 and then winning again a season ago. The Charging Bucs were 7-0 in Burton Coliseum in the state tournament before Saturday.

"It was two good teams going at it," first-year Landry-Walker coach Wilfred Antoine said. "Hats off to them. They made the last run at the end of the game. We didn't do a good job with 1:46 left taking care of the basketball. We hit the panic button."

Jalen Cook finished with 16 points. Darius Hampton had 12 points and Jalen Perkins finished with 10

Walker dominated the opening quarter, racing to a 14-6 lead. The Charging Buccaneers went the last 5:30 minutes of the quarter without scoring.

Landry-Walker (28-7) woke up in the second, though, starting the quarter on a 9-0 run. Jamond Vincent scored six straight points to ignite the run, including a highlight reel reverse alley-oop. Tory Cargo capped off the run with a 3-pointer that gave the Landry-Walker a 15-4 lead with 5:34 left in the quarter. It was close for the rest of the half, with the Wildcats leading 26-23 at halftime. The game stayed nip and tuck throughout the third, with Landry-Walker clinging to a 39-37 lead headed to the fourth.

All that was prelude, setting up for a fantastic finish that led to a celebration.

Walker’s only other tournament berth was in 1962 as a Class B school. The Wildcats were the first Livingston Parish boys team to advance to a title game since Springfield won the Class 2A title in 1997.

They added their name to the list Saturday.

"It doesn't even feel real right now," said Perkins.

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.