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By Robert Wilson
Photos By Robert Smith

         Defending MAIS Overall Tournament state champion and seven-time Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy had won 44 consecutive games against MAIS competition.

         But MRA’s streak came to screeching halt Friday night at Jackson Prep in Flowood.

         Prep, using a ball-control offense and stingy defense, jumped out to a 13-point lead after the first quarter, held off a furious, fourth quarter MRA rally, to take a 38-34 Class 6A conference victory.

         The Prep fans stormed the court after the game like they had won the Overall Tournament championship. It seemed like it. MRA had not lost to an MAIS team since Simpson defeated them in the Overall semifinals in 2020. MRA had not lost a regular season to an MAIS team since Prep defeated them 61-44 Feb. 4, 2020 at Prep. Prep almost pulled it off earlier this season, but lost to MRA 53-52 at MRA.

         Prep improved to 22-4 overall and 6-1 in league play. MRA – playing without starting senior guard Tylor Latham (on a football recruiting trip to Air Force) – dropped to 27-4 and 6-1 in league play. If the two teams finished tied for first, Prep will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A state tournament because of the point differential. Prep won by 4 at Prep and lost by 1 at MRA.

         Prep jumped out to a 19-6 lead after one quarter, 23-10 at halftime and 29-18 after three quarters. Prep led 34-21 with 5 ½ minutes to play before MRA came storming back, going on an 11-0 run – junior guard Josh Hubbard scored six of those, a one-handed slam dunk, two free throws and a mid-range jumper – to cut the lead to 36-34 with one minute to play. MRA got the ball back and with chance to take the lead, but missed a 3-point attempt with 30 seconds to play. Prep’s Wayne Hseieh passed to Luke Segrest for a layup on an out of bounds for a 38-34 lead with 22 seconds to play. MRA couldn’t close the gap to end the game.

         “MRA has a great team, Josh Hubbard is an elite player, Harrison Alexander is an outstanding player and Davis Dalton is a Division I football who does a great job inside, but we didn’t flinch. We have talented and experienced players and I’m proud of the way our guys played,” Prep coach Tim Wise said. “We knew MRA would make a run and Hubb would heat up, but we had to stay the course and hold them off. And Wayne had the guts to make that pass at the end.”

         “I heard (MRA) Coach (Richard) Duease yell, ‘Don’t let Cam catch the ball,’’’ Hseish said. “So I knew they would be double-teaming Cam and Luke broke away and I threw it to him and he made a great play.

         “At halftime, we talked about how we knew MRA and Hubbard were going to make a run. But we had to trust our fundamentals, our ball handling, our passing and our defense.”

“When you shot 18 percent from the field and 0 for 13 from 3 (in the first half) that’s what happens,” said Duease, the winningest high school basketball coach in Mississippi history who was denied his 1,762nd victory in his 47th season. “But our guys didn’t quit and fought back and had a chance to win late in the game, but the shots didn’t fall. It was just one of those games.”

Senior point guard Cam Brent – a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – led Prep with 12 points. Junior guard Luke Segrest had 10 points. Senior forward Walker Craddock had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Hubbard – another member of the Elite 11 who is rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 35 point guard in the country in his class by ESPN – was held to 16 points, about 13 below his average.