Lady Vols give Lady Rebels scare, finish second in district

Mary Peyton Passons
Staff Writer

Some of the fans that arrived early for the Heritage Academy-Canton Academy boys championship game of District 2-AAA looked up at the scoreboard with surprise during the girls title game between the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers and Leake Academy Lady Rebels on Saturday afternoon.

Starkville Academy had top-seeded Leake on the ropes for most of the game.

The Lady Vols had leads of 12-10 after the first quarter and 23-20 at halftime, but couldn't quite finish the deal as the Lady Rebels escaped with a 43-34 win to claim the first place trophy in the district.
"We gave a lot of effort," Starkville Academy's Mary Peyton Passons said. "I think that was one of our best games defensively simply because they are such a good team and they are so fast. We did a good job defensively and offensively, even to score on them was just amazing."

After Sydni Tangle scored to put Leake Academy up 2-0 to open the game, Passons immediately responded with a basket to tie the game and the Lady Vols let the Lady Rebels know they were going to be around for the rest of the game.

Passons hit a 3-point field goal and Rush Brown added two points as Starkville Academy was able to secure its 12-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Leake Academy didn't see the lead at all in the second quarter and the Lady Vols held their largest advantage of five points twice at 17-12 on a score by Passons and 21-16 on two points by Milla Davis.

Clancy Scott hit two-straight baskets to bring the Lady Rebels to within 21-10, but Brown scored to give Starkville Academy its 23-20 lead at halftime.

"To be up on Leake at halftime was more or less a moral victory for us," Lady Vols head coach Bruce Allsup said. "That right there will give us some confidence to go on to the next tournament. we are proud to represent Starkville Academy and our girls did a good job of that (Saturday night)."

The Lady Rebels scored the first five points of the second half to take a 25-23 advantage with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter, but the Lady Vols continued to fight.

Another basket by Davis tied the game at 25-25, then after Leake hit a free throw to go in front by one point, Lillee Alpe nailed a 3-pointer to give Starkville Academy a 28-26 edge.

The Lady Rebels sank a 3-pointer to get a 29-28 advantage after the third quarter and they did not trail again. They hit three more shots from long range in the fourth quarter to provide the separation they needed.

Even though Leake hit a spurt in the fourth quarter, the Lady Vols held the Lady Rebels to only 29 percent (17-of-57) shooting from the field for the game and 2-of-20 from 3-point range.

Passons had 12 points and eight rebounds for Starkville Academy, just missing a double-double. Davis added eight points.

The Lady Vols may have come away with the second-place trophy, but Allsup said his team gained something much more important.

"The greatest thing about (Saturday) is we got over that mental block of playing Leake Academy," Allsup said. "Our program is just going to continue to get better and better because once you get over the mental block against an elite team like Leake, you can go do some special things. I'm so proud of our girls.

"We hit a little spell there where we couldn't score that kind of cost us the game. They hit some shots and got some offensive rebounds that hurt us a little bit, but other than that you've got to take your hat off to my girls, they played extremely well."

Starkville Academy will take a 19-13 overall record into next week's North State AAA Tournament at North Delta.