Both Madison-Ridgeland Academy boys basketball coach Richard Duease and Raymond coach Tony Tadlock know the best way to get ready to win another state title is to play against great competition.
That’s why both coaches are looking forward to Monday’s matchup at 6:30 p.m. in the Rumble in the South at Mississippi College in Clinton.
The MRA-Raymond is the most intriguing matchup of the eight boys basketball games in the event, which began 14 years ago to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. The first game scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and the last game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. with games scheduled to start every hour and a half.
The MRA-Raymond meeting will the first time in school history the teams have played each in boys basketball.
Duease, the winningest high school basketball coach in Mississippi history and third most active in the country, has 1,719 wins in his 46th season, the last 39 at MRA. Duease, also the winningest boys coach in Mississippi history, has 1,127 boys wins and 592 girls wins. He has coached just boys since the 2002-03 season. He has won 39 state championships and 14 MAIS Overall Tournament titles. MRA finished 32-7 and won its sixth straight state title last season. The Patriots lost to eventual champion Simpson Academy in the Overall semifinals. MRA has won three of the last five and 10 of the last 16 Overall titles. The Patriots have won six straight state titles.
But MRA hasn’t won an Overall title since the 2017-2018 season and Duease has beefed up his schedule this season to make sure his Patriots are ready. MRA is 18-2 and hasn’t lost in Mississippi, losing only to Tennessee private school power Memphis University School and Louisiana two-time public school Class 4A state champion St. Thomas More. The Patriots are led by sophomore Josh Hubbard, a 5-foot-11 who extremely quick and an accurate shooter, who can pull up for 25-footers or drive to the goal for a slam dunk. He is averaging 23.9 points per game. His career high is 46 points, including nine 3-pointers, against MHSAA Class 6A power Gulfport in his third game as a freshman. Hubbard made 96 3-pointers last season and 43 so far this season. He has been offered by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Jackson State, Southern Miss and University of New Orleans. Senior guard Phillip Hughes is averaging 13.9 points and 6-5 sophomore forward Harrison Alexander, a transfer from Germantown High, is averaging 10.4.
“You can’t duplicate the speed of great teams in practice so we try to play as tough schedule as we can to get us ready for the playoffs,” said Duease, who Patriots lost to MHSAA Class 3A runner-up Velma Jackson 75-54 last season in the Rumble, MRA’s worst loss last season and the last time MRA has played an MHSAA team. “We like play some of the best public schools teams in the Rumble each year. We’ve played the Lakers, Celtics and 76ers. I think we’ve won once. We beat Pearl one year. The kids love the challenge. We like playing tough teams like Raymond. We hope we can stay with them.”
MRA will be playing six games in a nine day stretch, something else Duease likes to do to get ready for the grind of the playoffs.
“We played Jackson Prep Friday and Natchez Cathedral called us and wanted to play so we played them Saturday,” Duease said. “We scored 100 points for the first time in my career. I didn’t want to and don’t ever try to, but my third and fourth group kept making 3s. We play four games this week.”
Tadlock came one shot of winning his third straight MHSAA Class 4A state championship in his third season at Raymond. Greenwood edged Raymond in overtime for last year’s title and ended Raymond’s string of three consecutive 4A state titles. Tadlock, like Duease, has played a tough schedule, playing 10 6A or 5A teams, this season. The Rangers are 14-2, and on a nine-game winning streak. Raymond’s only losses to Class 6A favorite and undefeated Clinton and Class 5A Holmes County Central. Raymond is led by the dynamic duo of junior guards, Jabarie Robinson and Tremaine Dixon, who have combined for 40.4 points per game. Robinson, who is averaging 25.3 points per game, has the ability to take over a game with his outside shooting or speedy drives to the basket. He had a career high 40 points two weeks ago in a win over South Pike and was named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Player of the Week this past week. Dixon, who is averaging 15.1 points per game, has excellent floor vision as well as a knack for scoring. Dixon had a career-high 13 assists in the Class 4A state semifinal victory over Ripley last season. Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic and several junior colleges have shown interest in Robinson and Dixon.
“I’ve always believed in playing a tough schedule. If you want to make a run in the playoffs and have a shot to win a state championship, you have to be battle tested,” said Tadlock, who has a 97-21 record in his fourth season at Raymond and won a Class 6A state title as an assistant at Meridian. “I’ve always wanted my teams to play against the best teams to see where we stand. We are excited to be back in the Rumble for the fourth straight year. This event always matches us up with a very good opponent (Raymond has played Class 5A Callaway twice and Class 5A Wingfield last season). This year we have MRA and they are well coached and have a very talented team. We are looking forward to it.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 300 fans are allowed for each game in MC’s A.E. Wood Coliseum. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. All games are scheduled to be broadcast on ballertv.com.
Rumble in the South schedule:
Jackson Prep vs. Yazoo City, 9:30 a.m.
Oak Grove vs. Forest Hill, 11 a.m.
Hartfield Academy vs. Florence, 12:30 p.m.
Meridian vs. Center Hill, 2 p.m.
Clinton vs. Starkville, 3:30 p.m.
Callaway vs. Harrison Central, 5 p.m.
MRA vs. Raymond, 6:30 p.m.
Murrah vs. Brandon, 8 p.m.