PREP BASKETBALL: County Line caps perfect (45-0) season

County Line's Trent Johnson (25) fights for a loose ball with Marked Tree's Kenyon Carter (5) and Landon Lewis (14) during the first quarter of County Line's 45-44 win over Marked Tree in the Class 1A state championship game on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs..More photos at Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

HOT SPRINGS -- The County Line Indians capped a historic season with a dramatic finish.

County Line cracked the ninth tie in the Class A championship with a basket by Cooper Watson with six seconds left for a 46-44 win over Marked Tree at the Bank OZK Arena at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Friday night.

County Line (45-0) became the first team to win as many as 45 games and go undefeated.

"The 45-0 is something that's remarkable and really cool," County Line Coach Joe Brunson said. "I scheduled a really tough schedule, we played some really, really good teams throughout the year. When I scheduled them, I figured we'd have a couple of losses along the way. It just never happened. We came out of the Christmas break, we only had conference and post-season after that so we just decided to go with it and try to go for an undefeated season."

The win also avenged a bitter loss to Brady, 44-41, in the championship game last year that went down to the wire.

"It hurt a lot," Brunson said. "To be able to come back and win this year makes it that much more enjoyable."

Marked Tree (29-4) controlled the first half, leading 10-8 after a low-scoring first quarter and taking a 21-15 lead by holding County Line's usual fast-paced offense to just five baskets from the field in 25 attempts.

Cameron Marshall swished a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter to push Marked Tree up, 29-18, with 5:36 left in the quarter.

"The first half we defended real well and rebounded real well," Marked Tree Coach Barbara Wilburn-Covington said. "We were up by 11 and then they made their run. We didn't match their run. A couple of times we missed assignments who was supposed to guard who. That's lack of focus on our part."

County Line went on a 9-0 run to get back in the game.

"We settled back in and started getting stops again," Brunson said. "We talked about not turning the ball over and not letting them score in transition."

County Line took its first lead since 2-0 at 33-31 on two consecutive baskets by Watson and a bucket inside by Aundrae Milum. Donny Childs sprinted for a game-tying basket at the buzzer to send the game into the fourth quarter tied at 33-33.

The game went back and forth in the final quarter with Child tying the game at 44-44 with 15 seconds left.

County Line quickly inbounded the ball, and point guard Trent Johnston drove and dished to Watson, who scored with six seconds left for the 46-44 advantage.

"Trent had the ball, and I thought Trent was going to take the shot," Watson said. "I was pretty confident. I was trailing, getting ready to rebound. He dished it back to me, and it was open. It was an easy shot."

Marked Tree tried to get a timeout but time expired.

Milum earned the Most Valuable Player award and finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and an assist.

Watson scored 14 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, had 2 assists and a steal.

Johnston scored 9 points, Caden Vest had 8 points off the bench with 5 boards.

Kelby Rudd scored 6 points with a key 3-pointer in the third quarter.

Marked Tree was led by Ladarrius Brown, who scored 11 points, and Childs, who added 10. Jonah Walker had 8 points and 14 rebounds.

1A boys scorebook










PCT. – 34.7 FT 76.9 3-PT. – 2-9, 22.2 (Russ 2-3, Watson 0-2, Price 0-1, Johnston 0-3). BL – 4 (Vest 2, Rudd, Johnston). TO – 7 (Rudd 4). ST – 4 (Rudd, Watson, Price, Johnston).













PCT. – 41.5 FT 38.5 3-PT. – 5-17, 29.4 (Marshall 2-8, Brown 2-5, Carter 1-3, Williams 1). BL – 8 (Walker 6)

TO – 15 (Carter 4, Childs 3, Lewis 3). ST – 4 (Carter, Childs, Walker, Brown).

County Line;8;7;18;13;-;46

Marked Tree;10;11;12;11;-;44

Officials – Dunn, Rogers, Fox

Attendance – 2,415


County Line became the first team to ever win 45 games and go undefeated. … County Line outscored Marked Tree by a 31-23 margin in the second half to erase a halftime deficit. … There were 9 ties and 4 lead changes in the game. … County Line's last state championship was 1971. … County Line had a 26-20 scoring edge in the paint, a 15-7 margin in points off turnovers and a 15-10 advantage in second-chance points.


"I don't feel like I played my best today but my team had my back. We stuck together and got it done."

County Line senior and MVP Aundrae Milum.




The senior forward went over the 2,000-point mark in his career with his first basket in the regional tournament finals but was scoreless in the first half of Friday's championship game and responded with 9 points and 7 rebounds to earn the Most Valuable Player award


  photo  County Line’s Kelby Rudd (11) puts up a shot past Marked Tree’s Ladarrius Brown during the second quarter. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

  photo  County Line’s Aundrae Milum (right) had nine points and seven rebounds to earn MVP honors. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

 Gallery: 2023 Class 1A Boys Basketball State Championship