Raymond was one game from reaching the Mississippi Coliseum last season, losing at home to Bay High in an elimination game.
That loss still stings, but it has been the Rangers’ motivation all season.
“They are hungry,” said first-year Raymond coach Robert Green. “We downplayed that loss at first, but now we’re starting to talk about it more.”
Raymond wasted little time getting a step closer to its goal, manhandling Germantown 65-27 Thursday in the Division 6-4A Tournament.
It was the seventh straight win for the Rangers (22-2), ranked No. 3 in Class 4A.
James Jordan scored 16 points, including a thunderous dunk in the final minute, to lead Raymond. Ron Davis scored 13 points and Kendal Taylor had 11 for the Rangers, who play Port Gibson or Richland in tonight’s division tournament final.
Raymond and Germantown entered Thursday’s game having already clinched a berth in next week’s South 4A tournament. Two teams in the division, Mendenhall and Florence, were banned from postseason play by the MHSAA after a fight in a regular-season game last week.
The Mavericks, in the school’s second year of existence, earned their berth with a 51-42 win over Magee on Monday.
Germantown (8-20) seemed to have a bit of a hangover from that milestone win as Raymond raced out to a 13-0 lead. The Mavs didn’t score their first basket until Dean Williams hit a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Mental toughness is what we are working on daily and today our inexperience showed we were still living off past glories of making it to the playoffs,” said Germantown coach Spencer Gatlin.
Raymond’s defense created havoc, forcing turnovers that led to several easy baskets.
“Defense is definitely our calling card,” said Green. “I stress defensive pressure. We don’t want a team to score more than 10 points in a quarter.”
Germantown didn’t get that in the first half. Raymond led 26-6 at the break.
Green, whose team’s only losses came to Vicksburg and Terry, also credits the leadership of seniors Denzel Tory, Quintarius Richards and Tevin Irving.
“We talk about that loss from last year every day,” said Richards. “We want to get to Jackson.”