Photo by Robert Smith

By Robert Wilson

       Madison-Ridgeland Academy has the winningest basketball coach in Mississippi history in Richard Duease. Now, the private school in Madison County has the career scorer in Mississippi history.

       Senior guard and Ole Miss signee Josh Hubbard broke a 37-year-old record Friday night when he scored 28 points in MRA’s 55-54 victory over Presbyterian Christian School in the MAIS Class 6A state semifinals at PCS in Hattiesburg.

       The 5-foot-11 Hubbard passed Robert Woodard, who scored 4,272 points for Houlka from 1981-1986. Hubbard, who has started at MRA since the eighth grade, has now scored 4,274 points during his career. He passed the record on a driving layup with 1 minutes, 40 seconds to play. Hubbard – who 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 – has increased his scoring average each year and is averaging 27.4 points per game this season. Hubbard became the leading scorer in MAIS history last season when he passed Ken Coghlan, who scored 3,168 points from 1977-1980 at East Rankin Academy.

       Hubbard was recognized after the game for his historic accomplishment. PCS head of school Dr. Allen Smithers presented Hubbard with a ball as Hubbard and his parents (Jason and Betty Hubbard) were on the floor with him.

       “For my name to be in the categories with Robert Woodard and Monta Ellis is an unbelievable feeling and blessing,” Hubbard said. “I wouldn’t be able to have a chance to break this record without the help from a lot of people over the years. This accomplishment is big, but I’m more focused on winning with my team and having the opportunity to compete for a state championship and Overall championship.”

Photo by Robert Smith

Duease has won a Mississippi record 1,798 combined games (1,206 boys and 592 girls), 40 state championships and a MAIS record 15 Overall titles (13 boys and two girls) in 48 seasons, the last 41 at MRA. Duease is the second winningest active boys basketball coach in the country, only trailing Gary McKnight of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). Duease ranks fifth all-time in boys basketball wins, trailing Robert Hughes of Dunbar High in Fort Worth (1,333), Morgan Wooten of DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., (1,274) and Steve Smith of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. (1,229) and McKnight.

Duease has just started at MRA in the early 1980s when Woodard was playing at Houlka.

“Who would have thought back when Robert scored 4,274 points that anyone would ever break his record, but Josh has had a great career and it is quite an accomplishment to be talked about with players like Robert and Monta Ellis (who now is third in Mississippi history and scored 4,167 points for Lanier from 2001-2005),” Duease said. “I was working at the Mississippi State basketball camp when Robert was there. Bob Boyd was the head coach at State, and I worked with John Brady, Kermit Davis and Larry Eustachy at the camp. Robert was a great player. State would get some of the best players in the South and Robert was among the best there was.

“I’m so proud of Josh and his career. He has gotten better every year. He has great confidence and believes he can make every shot. Josh is a scorer and is a threat when he crosses halfcourt. He has kept his body healthy and used his strength and speed to score and has avoided serious injuries during his career.”

Woodard wasn’t able to attend the game Friday night but hopes to get together with Hubbard during the Overall Tournament next week at Mississippi College in Clinton. MRA’s win Friday guarantees a trip to the Overall Tournament.

While Woodard wasn’t in attendance, Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis flew down to the game from Oxford after he finished practice Friday afternoon.

“This was a record in our state I really didn’t think would ever be broken,” said Davis, who was playing at MSU and was a graduate assistant under his father, Kermit Davis, Sr., and was the head coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College while Woodard was playing at Houlka. “You have to be such a good player so early in your career and Josh did that. Plus, you have to sustain such a high standard throughout your career and stay healthy. On top of that, Josh has impacted winning at such a high level for Richard and MRA. We are all very proud of Josh and how well he represents our state of Mississippi.”