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2024 Rumble in the South preview: Yazoo City vs. Pascagoula headline a great slate of games

Seven teams inside the Top 20 will be on display in the annual boys basketball showcase in Clinton

The unusually pesky winter weather might have postponed the annual Rumble in the South holiday tournament by a week, but it has not but a damper on the drama for Saturday’s matchups.

The annual MLK Jr. Day event features eight games and includes seven teams currently ranked inside the Top 20 in the SBLive Mississippi boys basketball computer rankings.

Today, we’ll take a look at each matchup and the storylines headed into Saturday’s event at AE Wood Coliseum in Clinton.

Stay locked to SBLive Mississippi Saturday for the latest updates from all eight games, photo galleries, highlight videos and player interviews.

Heritage vs. Callaway (10 a.m.)

Heritage Academy (12-4) comes into Saturday’s game at 12-4 after weather wiped out last week’s scheduled games. Last time out, the Patriots dispatched Starkville Academy 57-34 to bounce back from a 61-57 loss to Bayou Academy.

The Callaway Chargers (10-11) have played a much tougher schedule and currently sits one game under .500 after a 1-4 start in Region 2-6A.

Both teams are gearing up for the home stretch, and a win Saturday would be a nice confidence boost going into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Harrison Central vs. Ridgeland (11:30 a.m.)

Harrison Central (12-4) is one of the two teams from the coast making the trek to the Jackson Metro Area for the event, and they come into Saturday riding a seven-game winning streak.

The Red Rebels are tied with Biloxi atop the Region 4-7A standings at 4-1 thanks to the emergence of guard Aujaylen Barron, who had 18 points in last week’s 73-69 win over Ocean Springs.

January has been a rollercoaster for Ridgeland (14-7), which has suffered losses to Columbus and Warren Central and notched wins over Neshoba Central and Vicksburg.

Raymond vs. Madison-Ridgeland Academy (1 p.m.)

The computer rankings have been surprisingly accurate so far, but Raymond (18-3) is one team that has been consistently underrated. The Rangers come in riding an eight-game winning streak that includes wins over powerhouse programs Canton and Olive Branch.

Perennial MAIS powerhouse Madison-Ridgeland Academy started 24-0 before suffering its first loss of the season Wednesday night at Jackson Academy.

The big matchup in this game is in the paint between MRA’s star, 6-foot-9 eighth grader Erick Dampier, Jr. and Raymond’s reigning Mr. Basketball Eric Paymon, Jr.

Madison Central vs. Jackson Academy (2:30 p.m.)

The fourth game of the day features two teams who come into Saturday playing some great basketball.

Madison Central (14-6) has won its last four games to start 4-0 in Region 2-7A after a loss to 6A powerhouse Pascagoula back on Dec. 28.

Jackson Academy (22-1) lost to that same Pascagoula team on Dec. 23, but has been otherwise perfect. The Raiders are coming off their biggest win of the season — a 69-47 blowout win over MRA Wednesday night.

Madison Central will have their hands full with JA’s sensational basketball brothers Mike and Mason Williams.

Provine vs. Olive Branch (4 p.m.)

The Provine Rams (14-4) are a good team that has struggled against some of the best competition it has faced, with all four of its losses coming against teams ranked inside the Top 25 of the SBLive computer rankings.

They’ll get a fifth shot Saturday against the Olive Branch Conquistadors (17-3), who have responded to back-to-back losses to finish 2023 with two blowout wins over Center Hill and Saltillo to start 2024.

Both teams are playoff-bound, and this game should offer both a great measuring stick for how ready they are for post-season play.

Yazoo City vs. Pascagoula (5:30 p.m.)

If you are only going to attend one game Saturday, make it this one.

Pascagoula (19-1) comes in ranked No. 2 in the state in the computer rankings and riding an 18-game winning streak. In that stretch, the Panthers are 12-0 against programs ranked in the Top 100, hold wins over Terry, Canton and Jackson Academy and avenged their season-opening loss to Madison Central with a 54-42 win over the Jaguars beckon Dec. 28.

Yazoo City (18-2), the defending Class 5A State Champion, has started 3-0 in Region 2 behind the splendid play of Jackson State commit Tamarion Hoover.

Good defense has been the calling card for the Indians, but they will have their hands full with Pascagoula’s dynamic duo Dorian McMillian and Kelan Rich.

Germantown vs. Petal (7 p.m.)

They may not possess the incredible records some of the other teams in the event have put together, but the seventh game of the day will feature two good teams still searching for consistency.

Germantown (7-11) was red-hot out of the gate, starting 4-1 with wins over Vicksburg, Neshoba Central and last year’s Class 6A Champion Northwest Rankin. They have struggled to a 3-10 record against an absolutely brutal schedule since then, with all 10 losses coming against teams ranked inside the Top 30.

Petal (10-10) looked to have righted the ship after an eyebrow-raising 2-6 start, notching five-straight wins from Dec. 15 through Jan. 5, but comes into Saturday having dropped the last two contests against Meridian and Pearl.

Terry vs. Vicksburg (8:30 p.m.)

The night cap is another good game between two solid teams.

Terry (13-6) has beat up on some of the best Jackson Public Schools programs, with wins over Murrah, Forest Hill, Lanier and Provine. The Bulldogs also split two games with Raymond.

Vicksburg (16-4) looked unstoppable until last week’s 61-50 loss to Ridgeland, but the Gators are still 4-1 to start the Region 2-6A slate, with a big game against Callaway set for Friday night.

This is another great measuring stick game for two programs looking to make deep post-season runs.