By Robert Wilson
In an early season battle between two of the top boys basketball teams in MAIS, Josh Hubbard showed why he is the MAIS career scoring leader.
The 5-foot-11 Hubbard – a senior point guard and Ole Miss commitment – scored 14 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead Madison-Ridgeland Academy to a 60-50 victory over Clinton Christian Academy Monday night at MRA in Madison.
In a game that switched leads numerous times in the first three quarters, Hubbard scored seven points – a hanging jump shot around the free throw line, a 3-pointer from the right wing after rebounding his own shot and another 3-pointer from the top of the key – in a span of 80 seconds to lead MRA to take a 46-41 lead with 5 minutes, 10 seconds to play. MRA never trailed again. CCA closed to 53-50 with 2:20 to play, but MRA scored the final seven points of the game, four by Hubbard on a 10-footer and a driving slam dunk from down the baseline to clinch the victory.
“We tried to share the wealth and give other guys an opportunity to shoot, but in the fourth quarter we went to a flat offense and led Hubb on one-on-one and either shoot it or find the open guy,” MRA coach Richard Duease said. “He made his shots.”
“Josh was the difference in the game in the fourth quarter,” CCA coach Josh Zeitz said. “We let him get to his spots and he didn’t miss.”
In addition to his 27 points, Hubbard had 10 rebounds and five assists. It was quite an improvement from Hubbard’s senior season opening victory Saturday over MHSAA Class 3A Southeast Lauderdale at Newton. Hubbard – the 2022 Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Year – finished with a career-low five points, breaking his 70-game streak of scoring in double figures and was in constant foul trouble in the game that was called after three quarters due to condensation on the court. Hubbard played only about 13 minutes.
Hubbard averaged 28.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and led MRA to a 33-7 record, a MAIS Class 6A state runner-up finish and an Overall semifinal finish this past season. He is ranked as the No. 1 overall player in Mississippi and No. 69 overall player in country and the No. 17 point guard in the country on ESPN’s 2023 Top 100. Hubbard is a member of the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team.
He became the MAIS career leader in points last season, finishing with 3,233. Hubbard, who has started at MRA since the eighth grade, broke Ken Coghlan’s 42-year-old record. Coghlan scored 3,168 points from 1977-1980 at East Rankin Academy.
MRA’s 6-6 senior guard Harrison Alexander – another Elite 11 Team member with Division I offers from Southern Miss, Jackson State, Navy, Florida International and Kennesaw State – added 20 points, 15 in the first half. Alexander also guarded CCA 6-foot junior forward Trey Alexander, another Elite 11 member, and held him to eight points.
Said Duease: “Harrison did a good job on Alexander, we’ve just got to get Harrison to play well the whole game offensively.”
With Monday’s win, Duease – the winningest active boys basketball coach in the country and the winningest basketball coach in Mississippi history – now has 1,377 boys victories in his 48th season, 41st at MRA. He has won 40 state championships and 15 Overall titles, 13 boys and two girls.
CCA 5-7 senior point guard KJ Sykes, another Elite 11 Team member, had a team-high 15 points. LJ Jones, a 6-foot junior forward, had 13 points and 5-8 senior guard Rakwun Yates, a transfer from MHSAA Class 5A Provine, added 12, 11 in the first half.
“It was a heck of a ballgame between two really good teams,” Zeitz said. “The game came down to a couple of key possession and they executed and coached a little better than us. I am proud of my guys’ effort and hate I couldn’t help them find a way to win.” Duease said his 6-6 sophomore Ashton Magee, a transfer from MHSAA Class 5A South Jones High, is practicing with the team with no contact and expects to have him back by late November or early December. He has been out since leg surgery in August. Jones, who has Division I offers from Ole Miss and Southern Miss, is ranked No. 34 in the country in the Class of 2025 by Ballislife.com. Magee started as a freshman for South Jones. He was named to the Chris Paul Rising Stars National Camp Top 10 in the Class of 2025 last summer. Magee played on the varsity for South Jones as an eighth grader and averaged 5.2 rebounds.