Starkville Academy guard Maridee Higginbotham (11) sets up the offense as Anna Lea Little, right, directs traffic during Tuesday night's game against Madison-Ridgeland Academy. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Starkville Academyâ€™s streak of perfection was extended one more game.
The Lady Volunteers did so by knocking off the Lady Patriots of Madison-Ridgeland Academy 54-22 on Tuesday evening.
While it may have won by double-digits, Starkville Academy was not a one trick pony on Tuesday. For every shot the Lady Vols scored on offense, the team worked just as hard to stop the Lady Patriots on defense.
â€śThat is one thing you can say about them,â€ť SA girls coach Glenn Schmidt said. â€śThey have made their minds up that they are going to play defense. They may give people a few field goals early in the game, but when they are really fresh and are moving on defense, they give people a problem or two.â€ť
From the moment the basketball was tipped, it was clear the Lady Vols came to play. Led by Maggie Proffitt, SA outscored its opponent by 13 to claim an 18-5 lead after one quarter.
The Lady Vols offense did not slow down in the second period, instead it seemed to only increase. Combine the impressive scoring with the unstoppable defense that once again held the Lady Patriots to five points and Starkville Academy carried a 28-10 lead into halftime.
Leading the offensive first half show was Proffitt who provided the Lady Vols with 16, followed by Tiffany Huddleston, Nora Kathryn Carroll, Anna Lea Little and Sallie Kate Richardson who each had three.
Coming out of half, the Lady Vols began to place the nail in the coffin. The defense managed to hold Madison-Ridgeland to eight points, while adding 14 of its own to all but seal the deal taking a 42-18 lead into the final moments of play.
It would have been easy for Starkville Academy to have taken its foot off the gas on both sides of the basketball to just coast into victory, but that was not the case. Instead, the Lady Vols continued to put on a show stopping performance again scoring double digits and holding the Lady Patriots less than five as they claimed the victory.
Proffitt led the Lady Vols by going 9-for-12 for the night to score 24 points, including going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Janiece Pigg was next with six points, while Little and Huddleston tied with five points for the night.
While they may not have been leading scorers, Richardson and Maridee Higginbotham each contributed in their own way. Richardson led the team with 10 rebounds, while Higginbotham picked up six assists on Tuesday.
Tavyn Lovitt was the leading Lady Patriot with eight points.
With Tuesdayâ€™s win the Lady Vols moved to 13-0 overall, but Schmidt knows there are still things for her team to work on.
â€śThis is what we have to get better at and we talked about this at halftime,â€ť said Schmidt. â€śWhen we jump out to a big lead, we are going to have a bit of a lull after that. It is just human nature. When that happens, we need to learn to let the game come to us. We have to learn when to control and when to run. That is what we are going to work on heading into the break.â€ť
Starkville Academy will continue the quest for a second state championship as the Lady Vols put their win streak on the line Saturday when they welcome Hillcrest Christian to town.
Friday's scheduled game against Pillow Academy has been moved to Dec. 20.
Madison-Ridgeland Academy 60,
Starkville Academy 30
The Volunteers win streak stopped at four games.
â€śIt was a bad night for us,â€ť Starkville Academy coach Mark Alexander said. â€śMRA had a lot to do with that. They are a very good team. They have tons of size and they shot the ball extremely well. It was just a tough match-up for us. They were the better team (Tuesday).â€ť
Coming out of the gates, it was clear that the Vols had their hands full with the Patriots. Outscored 10-4, Oshea Kemp was the lone Volunteer to score in the first period.
Scoring improved slightly for Starkville Academy as the game progressed, but it was just not enough as Madison-Ridgeland carried at 32-11 lead into the locker rooms at the half.
Raheim Robinson led the Volunteers throughout the first half scoring five points, followed by Kemp with four. Jordan Hubbard and Clinton Moses were the leading Patriots each scoring eight.
â€śIf there is one thing I can take away from this game, it is to play Raheim Robinson,â€ť Alexander said. â€śHe is a junior forward and has tons of talent and ability. I thought he played extremely well (Tuesday) and that was encouraging to see him play the way he did.â€ť
Starkville Academy did manage to double its score after the third period, but it was just not enough as the Patriots continued to outman and outsize the Volunteers to take a 54-22 lead into the final period.
Scoring slowed down for both teams as the clock ticked down for Tuesdayâ€™s action and when all was complete, Madison-Ridgeland left Starkville with a victory.
Robinson continued to lead the Volunteers the rest of the game scoring eight, followed by Kemp with six. Madison-Ridgeland was led by Hubbard with 15.
The loss to the Patriots may have ended Starkville Academyâ€™s win streak and placed them at 5-6 overall, but Alexander knows that his team has come a long way and that this is certainly not the end.
â€śThe big thing I told them at halftime was that weâ€™ve come too far and achieved too much to take a huge step back,â€ť Alexander said. â€śWe have to keep playing hard and I thought we played hard to the end, no matter what the score was.â€ť
Next up for the Volunteers is matchup with Hillcrest Christian on Saturday.
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