Leadership takes Vols to another district title

Starkville Academy's boys basketball team
Staff Writer

Many might have suggested that there would be some rebuilding done by the Starkville Academy Volunteers on the hardwood, but they had leadership returning that would be critical for them down the stretch.
Veterans Reid Stevens, Codie Futral and Carter Roach led the Vols (15-10) to a second-straight MAIS District 2-AAA regular season crown. They followed that up with a dominating two-day run at Leake Academy to take home the tournament crown as well and take the No. 1 seed into the North State tournament back in Madden this week.
Most impressively, Starkville Academy won it all in emphatic fashion with a 66-50 win against the Rebels of Leake on their home floor. A 19-8 first quarter lead set the tone for a game that never was really in doubt.
“I think the key was that we were able to get off to a fast start,” Volunteer coach Bruce Allsup said. “Our defensive game plan was good. We wanted to stop dribble penetration and getting to the goal and close out on their shooters. To beat Leake in front of hostile crowd – impressive.”
In the game, balance was the key for Starkville Academy.
Stevens had 16 points, Roach 14, Futral 12 and Noah Methvin had 10. The balance has been huge for the Vols late in the season as they have begun to hit their stride and play their best basketball.
“The balance has been real good," Allsup said. "It puts pressure on other teams so they can’t concentrate on one or two people. We’ve been getting scoring output from seven deep the last few games and that’s been very important for our success.”
Focus shifts to the North State Tournament in Leake this week as Starkville Academy tries to reverse last year’s outcome as it lost in the first game of the tournament to suddenly end the season.
The Vols will play Thursday night at 5:15 p.m. against the winner of Indianola and St. Aloysius. Being familiar with the Colonels after splitting in the regular season, Allsup knows that it will be a battle from here on out regardless of opponent.
“We’ve played Indianola twice and they match up with us well,” Allsup said. “They give us some trouble. I don’t know who’s going to win the game, but I know Indianola is a fine club. It doesn’t really matter who it is, you’ve got to be prepared. We’re going to work on ourselves.”
As for the Lady Vols, they were just a shot or two away from playing for the district championship against Leake. A tough loss to the Lady Patriots of Winston set up a consolation game against Heritage that gave the Lady Vols won 46-30 and took third place in the tournament.
“I really thought we played one of our best games of the year against Heritage,” Allsup said. “We shared the ball really well and played good defense. We had a hard time scoring against Winston, but had a chance to win that game. it wasn’t meant to be. The bad part is we get put on the same side as Kirk and Leake because we lost. We’re going to lace ‘em up and play our best.”
The Lady Vols (16-14) will play Central Hinds later Monday at 4 p.m. looking for a chance to move on. A win has them facing off against the state's top team in Kirk Academy.