Skip to main content

Raymond blasts McComb 53-28 to clinch 2024 MHSAA Class 4A Championship

The Rangers hoisted a golden ball trophy for the fifth time in seven seasons at the Coliseum

After the MHSAA went through another round of realignment last year, it was unclear who would challenge the Raymond Rangers in Class 4A boys basketball.

After Saturday, we have our answer: Nobody.

The Rangers turned the MHSAA Championship game against McComb into a coronation with a 53-28 win in front of a rowdy crowd at the Mississippi Coliseum.

It was Raymond's fifth championship in seven seasons under coach Tony Tadlock, who was all smiles despite getting a big ice-water bath from his guys in the post-game celebration.

“The big thing that makes this one so special is that we went and lost to Choctaw Central in the first game of the season, then came home and lost to Terry to start 0-2,” Tadlock said. “But we didn’t fall apart. These guys held it together, finished 31-4 and hopefully number one in the state.”

The Rangers (31-4) certainly have a case for No. 1.

Among their other 30 wins are victories over Ridgeland, Clinton, Meridian, Terry, Port Gibson, Canton, Olive Branch and Provine — all teams who played at least one game in the Mississippi Coliseum this week.

Saturday’s blowout win over McComb (21-8) was their fourth of the season over the Tigers. They had previously beaten them 71-49 on Jan. 22, 69-51 on Jan. 30 and 64-47 on Feb. 9.

The fourth meeting went about as well as you would expect for McComb.

Raymond built a 15-6 first-quarter advantage, and led it 25-16 at the half and 35-22 heading into the fourth.

The final moments of the game turned into a party, as the Rangers basically held the ball and celebrated for the final two minutes.

“I’m glad we don’t have to deal with (Raymond) anymore,” McComb coach Karshae Peterson said. “This was our fourth time playing them, and we tried to put our best foot forward. We got the stops, we just couldn’t find the scoring. You gotta commend Tony (Tadlock) and those guys. They have a great team. I’m really proud of our guys for getting here.”

Keymarius Lewis scored 19 points to lead Raymond, Mekhi Strong scored 18 and Class 4A Mr. Basketball and E.J. Paymon scored 10 points to go with his game-high 17 rebounds.

Paymon, a Mississippi State signee, said he felt like the win provided the Rangers a little redemption after falling to Yazoo City in the 4A Championship a year ago.

“This is a special feeling,” Paymon said. “It’s special because I know the hard work that we all put in, especially after the way last season ended. Our defense was the key to winning the game. If there’s no defense, there’s no offense.”

Paymon was one of 10 seniors on the Raymond roster, many of whom have played for a state title in each of their four years in high school. Saturday’s championship was the seventh-straight title-game appearance for the Rangers’ program.

“This senior class is a special group,” Tadlock said. “Starting out the season No. 1 and having E.J. to kind of headline us, these guys played the whole season with the bullseye on their backs, and they never wavered all year.”