JACKSON — The Raymond Rangers started the season as the highest-ranked high school team in any classification, and they were determined to finish that way.
After finishing runner ups the last two seasons, Raymond got over the hump and raced past Clarksdale 65-44 to claim the MHSAA Boys Class 4A State Championship on Thursday night at the Mississippi Coliseum.
It’s the Rangers (29-5) fifth state title in school history and first since 2019.
“After losing two straight state championships and coming back and winning it tonight is a special feeling,” said Raymond coach Tony Tadlock. “It shows the character of this team. We lost our first two games of the year and to be able to make this run and finish like we did I’m super excited for all these guys.”
Raymond came out firing, as they took a 12-5 lead to begin the game, but Clarksdale ended the opening quarter on a 6-2 run to cut the Rangers lead down to 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter and the third quarter are when Raymond created separation.
The Rangers began the second quarter on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 23-11 and ended the first half up 33-22.
Raymond outscored Clarksdale 13-4 in the third quarter to increase their lead to 46-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Eric Payton hit a pair of free throws to give the Rangers a 55-35 lead and sealed the game.
Robinson had a game-high 19 points to lead Raymond on 7-for-14 shooting and was named the game’s most valuable player.
“We had a great plan coming in. We came out with a bang and that’s the reason we sealed the game early on,” Robinson said. “The game plan was to stop their shooters, get stops on defense and get into our transition offense. This feeling is an unbelievable feeling go out a state champion my senior year.”
Dixon added 17 points for Raymond, while Chris Fuqua added 13 points for the Rangers.
“We came out and threw the first punch and just kept on the entire game and that was huge,” Tadlock said. “I didn’t have to motivate this team all season. This senior class is special and to send this class out with a ring is amazing. Tremaine Dixon and Jabarie Robinson is the best back court in the state.”
Korea McKay had nine points to lead Clarksdale, while Markevoious Jackson, Henry Espy and Kyle Coleman all had eight points each for the Wildcats (26-8).
“Raymond is a really good team and my hats off to them,” said Clarksdale coach Farington Hill. “A couple key guys got in foul trouble early and had to change some things and it just didn’t work out.”
(All photos by Austin Frayser)