By Robert Wilson
The defending MAIS Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy boys basketball team, led by star junior guard Josh Hubbard and coached by one of the winningest high school basketball coaches in the country Richard Duease, take their successful show to South Florida this week.
MRA, 15-2 and winners of 30 of its last 32 games, meet Gulliver Prep (Fla.), 2-5, Tuesday at 12:30 Central in a first-round game of the Junior Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay, just south of Miami. The tournament will be livestreamed through ballertv.com, a subscription only service.
MRA has an 8-2 record this season against teams outside of the MAIS. Its only losses were to MHSAA Class 6A state championship contender Biloxi and Nashville’s Christ Presbyterian Academy, one of the top teams in Tennessee. MRA had won 22 games in a row before losing to Biloxi in the eighth game this season.
“We’ve been going off for a Christmas tournament for about 20 years now,” Duease said. “We’ve been to California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Louisiana. It’s all about getting the opportunity to play fast, good competition. We played in Miami one time and went there with a losing record and played great competition and then ran the table in the private school league. We went out to Reno one time and beat Luke Babbitt, who went on to be a first round NBA draft pick. The kids will always remember that. It’s a great experience for the guys. We are looking forward to going to Miami for another great trip and good competition.”
The 5-foot-11 Hubbard, who has drawn comparisons to NBA stars Monta Ellis and Devin Booker from Mississippi by opposing coaches, is averaging 28.8 points per game, and is rated as the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 35 point guard in the country in his class by ESPN. He scored a season-high 42 points against Adams County Christian School and scored his team’s first 20 points. It was the second most points in his career. Hubbard’s career high is 46 points against MHSAA Class 6A Gulfport as a freshman when he made nine 3-pointers, including two in the last 17 seconds to win the game. Hubbard has scored double figures in 47 consecutive games. He scored only 7 points against Kirk Academy last year when he only played a quarter.
Hubbard – named to the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – has been offered by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley, LSU, University of Houston, and University of New Orleans.
Duease, the winningest high school basketball coach in Mississippi history and third most in wins among active coaches in the country, has 1,749 wins in his 47th season. He is also the winningest boys coach in Mississippi history with 1,357 victories. He has won 40 state championships and 15 Overall titles, 13 boys and two girls.
MRA 6-6 junior guard Harrison Alexander averages 15.7 points per game and has scored in double figures in every game except Biloxi. He tied a season-high with 21 points against Bayou Academy last week and also had 21 against 2021 Overall runner-up Greenville Christian earlier this season. Alexander scored a career-high 28 points against Jackson Academy last season as a sophomore.
In addition, MRA 6-4 senior Davis Dalton is in the starting lineup now after playing football. Dalton – the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Year – led MRA to its third straight MAIS Class 6A state championship. Dalton, a wide receiver and a Southern Miss football signee, averaged 6.2 points last season and scored the tying basket to send the game into overtime in the Overall title game last season.
MRA will be playing games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Times and opponents will be determined depending on MRA’s result on Tuesday.