Bobcats’ MVP: Connor Varnum.

The junior attacked the rim with fearlessness, living at the charity stripe while creating open looks for teammates. At one point in the third quarter, he buried six straight free throws to close the deficit to 47-44 and highlight an 11-12 effort from the charity stripe.

His 19-point, five-rebound, five-assist, four-steal effort embodied what he means to the Bobcats, who got 11 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and seven steals from him in the 57-52 region championship win at Graceville.

Cowboys’ MVP: Travis Jay.

Look beyond the 6-foot-2 star’s 3-9 shooting performances and 9-17 effort from the charity stripe.

Jay, bound for FSU as a safety, was Madison County’s chief facilitator, serving up seven dimes as he was able to penetrate and dish. He was also a bulldog on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds.

The turning point: In the third quarter, Dilan Lawson missed an open, one-handed slam to take the air out of Paxton’s sails. Moments later he redeemed himself. The 6-3 forward came off a screen, found room in the right corner and buried a 3-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer and give the Cowboys a 51-44 lead.

The game was over when: Down between six and eight points with four minutes to play, the Bobcats couldn’t buy that crucial 3 as an Adam Hall trey missed and back-to-back treys from Latrell Sanders rimmed out.

Paxton’s future: The Bobcats lose only Keontae Sanders from this 29-2 crew.

Varnum, Alonzo Wright and Zach Williams are only juniors, while Latrell Sanders is just a freshman. Considering Madison County loses 10 seniors, Paxton should be the early favorite to advance out of the Panhandle next year and win the program’s first state title since 1962.