By Robert Wilson

First-year Madison Central boys basketball coach Ben Gardner got his first big victory as a head coach last week with a 63-53 victory over MHSAA Class 6A state championship contender Brandon at Brandon.

And Gardner can thank Caleb Kent for the signature win.

The 6-foot-1 senior guard had 24 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 2 steals to lead Madison Central and give Brandon only its third loss in 15 games this season.

For his outstanding performance, Kent has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week.

“Caleb is a winner on every sense of the word,” said Gardner, who was an assistant for seven seasons at Madison Central before taking over for Timothy Speech this season. “He’s a great teammate who works hard in and out of practice to create the best version of himself so that he can help the team be successful. Against Brandon, he set the tone early by being in attack mode on offense and kept his intensity for the entire game on both ends of the floor, logging all 32 minutes.”

Kent is averaging 21.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.2 assists for 8-6 Madison Central going into this week. Kent scored a career-high 36 points in a 76-75 win over Desoto Central in the second game this season. Kent, who also had 7 steals, 5 rebounds and 2 assists against Desoto Central, made 14 of 20 free throw attempts, including several in the final minutes to clinch the victory. 

“Caleb has put a ton of work into his game to become a more complete player, especially shooting the ball,” Gardner said. “But the intensity and leadership he brings to the table are irreplaceable. He has really taken ownership of the team. Caleb has a refuse to lose mentality and does what it takes to get the job done night in and night out.” 

Kent has offers from Copiah-Lincoln Community College, East Mississippi CC, Holmes CC, Mississippi Delta CC, and Northeast Mississippi CC.