SHS girls rally behind Strong, but fall in home outing

Sports Editor

It was something that Amaria Strong already knew, but it didn't hurt hearing the message again.

The Starkville High School senior was motivated by what coach Kristie Williams had to say at halftime as the Lady Jackets fell behind to the Columbus Lady Falcons 15-3 on Tuesday night.

Starkville rallied to take a second-half lead mainly behind the scoring of Strong, but it ended up losing a tight 32-25 game at home to Columbus.

"We could have did better than what we did," Strong said. "Coach told us what we could do and I said I'm going to step up and get us back in the game. We should have won the game."

Strong scored all 12 of her points in the third quarter as the Lady Jackets came back to take a 20-19 advantage.

Williams was happy to see the big third-quarter push.

"I told them we are built for this and playing hard," Williams said of her message at halftime. "The thing we pride ourselves in is playing hard no matter the competition and playing hard no matter the adversity. I'm trying to get them to see that it's not about this one game, but about the rest of their lives. You are going to face adversity, but we don't bow down and don't give up. I want them to have that never-give-up mentality."

After a basket by Jalisa Outlaw put SHS up 22-19 early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Falcons went on a 9-0 run to go back in front 28-22. The Lady Jackets got a 3-point play from Outlaw to close the gap to 28-25 with 50 second remaining in the game, but that was as close as they could get.

Outlaw was the only other Starkville playing to score in double digits with 10 points.

The Lady Jackets dug their hole in the first half by missing all 24 shots taken from the field.

Idalis Suell opened the scoring for SHS with a pair of free throws, but Columbus got the next 11 points to take early control of the outing.

"We've got to find a way to score the basketball," Williams said. "It's pretty evident right now that we don't shoot the basketball well from outside and we have to have that driving mentality to get easy buckets. Until we get that going, we're going to have games where we've just got to keep fighting to pull it out. Hopefully the light will come on and they will get back on that grind and be determined to pull out the victory."

Williams said the Lady Jackets will continue to pride themselves on playing tough defense until the offense has a chance to catch up.

Starkville (1-2) is without players like Tabreea Gandy and Jariyah Covington, who are now playing on the junior college level.

"It's just a matter of time," Williams said. "We have players in spots that have never had the chance to be in the spots they are in. They are filling big shoes and it takes time for them to understand what we need at this level and it's got to be on a consistent basis. I've got to be more patient as their coach and just keep leading them to what I know they are capable of doing. It's just a matter of them putting it all together.

"We're getting there. It's just going to take some time. Hopefully we can get it back together pretty quick because we have West Point Thursday."