By Brandon Speck
JACKSON – Not everybody loves Raymond.
The Rangers made sure Shannon’s first trip to the Mississippi Coliseum since 1995 was memorable – a painful one.
Raymond beat the Red Raiders 61-53 on Tuesday night in the MHSAA Class 4A semifinals.
An 11-0 run that broke a 35-all tie and stretched from the third to the fourth quarter proved too much.
“You never want to give a team momentum going into halftime or the end of a quarter, but still, we came out and battled,” Shannon coach Cedric Brim said, “just weren’t able to get over that hump.”
Raymond (28-7) will face McComb in Saturday’s state championship game. It used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to take a 32-25 lead. But for the second time, Xzavier Jones tied it on a 3-pointer. He tied it at 23 in the first half after trailing as many as seven.
A steal at the third-quarter buzzer led to Ron Davis’ bucket and a two-point Raymond lead. That was just the start of it. James Jordan’s two free throws gave the Rangers a 46-35 lead.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect,” Jones said. “We just didn’t play as well as we should have.”
The quarter started with two of Jordan’s game-high 21 points, then a technical on Shannon sophomore point guard Rocquis Coleman after he was called for a charge.
Sean Watkins’ dish to Brice Ford cut the lead to 46-40, then Watkins stole a pass. But he fouled out – with eight points and five boards – when a pick was called on the other end.
Coleman and Jones each scored 20 points to lead Shannon (25-8), Jones with the only three 3s in the Raiders’ 3-for-12 night.
“There were times when we weren’t executing,” Jones said. “We weren’t knocking down shots.”
All of Shannon’s nine points in the first quarter came on free throws. It shot 26.3 percent in the first half and hit only 16-of-44 shots in the game.
“Shots didn’t fall like we wanted, but I think defensively we played pretty good,” Brim said.