By Robert Wilson
Raymond High boys’ basketball coach Tony Tadlock has a winning formula: play a very tough program before jumping into the regional game in an effort to reach the state championship game.
That works. Learn about Tadlock’s results since joining Raymond five years ago.
Raymond has played the MHSAA Class 4A State Championship game every season, winning in 2018 and 2019 and finishing second in 2020 and 2021.
Raymond takes a 9-4 record this week in one of the nation’s most prestigious Christmas tournaments – the King Cotton Holiday Classic in Pine Bluff, Ark.
“The field is filled with top ranked teams from across the country and we are thrilled to be a part of the event,” said Tadlock. “We’re opening with Missouri’s # 2 team – Christian Brothers High of St. Louis – and we can’t wait to take on the challenge.
“The schedule we play before we get to the district is unmatched. We will definitely be ready when we return to 4A in January. “
Raymond has played against an MHSAA Class 6A or 5A school in nine of his 11 games. According to MaxPreps, two of Raymond’s losses were to state-class 6A contender and undefeated Meridian and Madison Prep, the No.1 team in Louisiana.
Senior guards Raymond Jabarie Robinson and Tremaine Dixon – both members of Metro Jackson Priority One Bank / Mississippi’s elite pre-season 11 squad – have 16.7 and 16.2 points per game, respectively. Each averages five assists per game. Both have been offered by many Mississippi community colleges and are recruited by many senior colleges. EJ Paymon, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound sophomore transfer from First Love Christian Academy in Pennsylvania, is averaging 12.2 points and seven rebounds per game. Paymon is considered one of the top sophomores in the state and was once offered by Ole Miss. Larry Lee, a 6-5 junior, leads Raymond with 8.5 rebounds per game.
Raymond will play at the Christian Brothers on Monday at 12:45 pm The game will be broadcast live on the King Cotton Holiday Classic Facebook page.
Christian Brothers is led by 5-11 senior point guard Robert Martin, 7-2 sophomore center John Bol and 6-5 senior point guard Larry Hughes II. Bol, from South Sudan, Africa already has Division I offerings from Butler, Clemson, Illinois, Kansas State and Missouri. Hughes is the son of former NBA star Larry Hughes, who averaged 14.1 points in 14 seasons in the NBA. Southern Miss fans will remember Hughes, who played for Saint Louis in Conference USA against Southern Miss. Hughes was named National Freshman of the Year and Conference USA Player of the Year in 1998 before turning pro after a season in college and was eighth overall. choice of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1998 NBA Draft.
Raymond will play a game on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the eight King Bracket teams. The other six teams are some of the best teams in the south, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff High and Watson Chapel High from Arkansas, Cane Ridge from Nashville, Beaumont High from Texas and Calvary Baptist Academy from Shreveport.