Photo Gallery Sponsored By: Thompson Addison, PLLC and Greenville Christian School
By Robert Wilson
Photos By Chris Todd
Madison-Ridgeland Academy coach Richard Duease won his MAIS record 13th Overall Tournament boys basketball championship Tuesday night, but the way his Patriots won it was unlike any he had won before.
MRA scored three points in the final 1.5 seconds of regulation then outscored previously undefeated Greenville Christian in overtime for a 77-72 Tuesday night for the Overall championship at Hartfield Academy in Flowood.
Seven-time reigning Class 5A state champion MRA finished 33-3, won its 15th straight game and had a 29-0 record against MAIS teams. MRA’s only losses were to MHSAA Class 4A state runner-up Raymond,
Memphis University School and St. Thomas More (La.). Class 2A state champion Greenville Christian, trying to win its first Overall title, finished 24-1. Greenville Christian was trying to become only the second Class 2A or smaller school to win an Overall boys title in the past 19 seasons.
Duease, the winningest high school basketball coach in Mississippi history and third most in wins among active coaches in the country, won his 1,734th game in his 46th season, the last 39 at MRA. Duease is also the winningest boys coach in Mississippi history with 1,342 victories. He has won 40 state championships and 15 Overall titles, 13 boys and two girls. Duease last won an Overall boys title when he won three straight from 2016-18. He won five straight from 2007-11. Duease’s first Overall was in 1993.
Two underclassmen had outstanding performances. MRA sophomore Josh Hubbard had a game-high 36 points, 27 in the first half where he made 10 of 10 shots from the field, 5 of 5 from 3-point range. Greenville Christian junior DJ Smith, who transferred from Greenwood High, had 33 points and 13 rebounds, 20 points in the second half as he led Greenville Christian back from a 40-27 deficit. Smith, one of the top athletes in Mississippi, scored 30 points and was named MVP and led Greenwood to an overtime victory over three-time defending MHSAA Class 4A state champion Raymond in last year’s championship game. Then, Smith was the quarterback on this year’s Class 2A state championship team at Greenville Christian.
After Greenville Christian had rallied back from its 13-point halftime deficit, it appeared to have the game won after MRA missed two shots trailing 66-63 with just a few seconds to play. MRA’s Harrison Alexander was called for an intentional foul on Smith with 2 seconds to play, but one of Greenville Christian’s players ran onto the court from the bench and received a technical foul. Smith missed both of his free throws and Hubbard made one of his technical foul shots to cut Greenville Christian’s lead to 66-64. MRA got the ball because of the technical. After not being able to get the ball in and calling two consecutive timeouts, Tylor Latham threw the ball into Alexander, who missed a 3-point attempt from the corner. But junior Davis Dalton caught it and scored as the buzzer sounded for a 66-66 tie to force overtime.
Hughes scored two quick baskets for a 70-66 lead and MRA never trailed again. Smith made a 3-pointer to close the lead to 74-72 with 20 seconds to play, but Hughes made two free throws and Hubbard made one for the final margin.
“It was a wild game, but our guys didn’t quit,” Duease said. “We were fortunate to tie the game in regulation. Greenville Christian had the game. We took advantage of the situation and tied it up.”
“I am unbelievably proud of how hard my guys battled tonight,” Greenville Christian coach Logan Collins said. “It would have been very easy to get our heads down after the way the first half went, but they showed just how resilient they are. They’ve dealt with so much this year from COVID, many transferring to a new school, learning a new system, accepting new roles, cancelled games and an ice storm in the middle of the playoffs. They’ve dealt with more than any team I’ve ever coached, but they never complained and just continued to do what I asked to the best of their ability. I’m just heart-broken for them right now.”
Hughes had 13 points and three steals, Dalton had 12 points and Alexander 10 points for MRA. Junior Daishun Scott, a transfer from Greenville O’Bannon High, had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Greenville Christian.