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Canton Tigers blow past Yazoo City to clinch first-ever MHSAA boys basketball championship

Jamarion Fleming dropped 25 points on the biggest stage in Mississippi high school basketball

On a big night at the "Big House," it was Canton High's Jamarion Fleming who stood the tallest.

The Tigers' star dominated inside, dropping 25 points to lift Canton to its first-boys basketball state championship since 1997 with a 58-40 win over the Yazoo City Indians in front of a sellout crowd at the Mississippi Coliseum.

The air inside the arena was special — a throwback to the late 90's matchups featuring Jackson basketball legends like Justin Reed, Monta Ellis and Tang Hamilton. Hundreds of fans waited outside, even after tipoff, and the fire marshal held the game until the throng of patrons standing in every aisle and exit doorways found their way to the stands.

The Tigers (26-4) didn't shy away from the crowd, they fed off of it.

"It was electric," Canton coach Russell Evans said. "I had chills on my arms when we walked out. We could all feel the love from the crowd. Our fans have been with us all year, and we love it."

Fleming and Deandre Lewis could not be stopped in the first half. Fleming hit five of his eight shots, including two monstrous dunks, and Deandre Lewis made all three of his shots from the floor and both his free throw attempts. The duo combined for 20 points to help Canton to a 30-21 halftime lead.

Fleming, who won the 2024 Mr. Basketball Award for Class 5A last month, said the Tigers came into Friday's game with a chip on their shoulder after splitting the first two meetings with the Indians (28-6).

"We definitely had something to prove in here tonight," Fleming said. "They beat us by like 30 in the first meeting, and they were on the internet talking crazy. Then when we beat them, they said it was a fluke. So we wanted to prove a point."

Yazoo City tried several times to mount a comeback in the second half, but couldn't break through. They'd score a bucket, then give up an easy one on the other end, or get a steal, then give it right back with some kind of a mental lapse or a bad pass in transition.

They trimmed the deficit to nine points at the six-minute mark in the third quarter, but like clockwork, Fleming made an incredible move and hit a turnaround jumper and Josh Brown buried a three-pointer to stretch it right back out to 14.

The party on the Canton bench started with more than a minute to go. It had already been raging in the stands for much of the second half. Their final 18-point advantage was their largest of the night.

"I thought (Fleming) did a good job controlling the paint on both ends of the floor," Yazoo City coach Anthony Carlyle said. "He finished when he got himself in position, and he made it hard for us to finish on our end. We had our chances, especially in transitions, but we just turned it over too many times. It just wasn't our night."

Still, Carlyle added he was proud of his seniors, who won a state title last year, stepped up a level in reclassification and won their way back to the coliseum in 2024.

"They did a commendable job in accomplishing all that," he said. "We just didn't capitalize on the opportunities we had tonight."