Lady Vols edged at home by Lady Patriots

Lillee Alpe (1) takes a shot for Starkville Academy on Friday night.

Staff Writer

There had already been two games to help Starkville Academy’s girls tune up for District 2-AAA play in 2018, but the new year began the stretch run for a team that’s hoping to finish strong.

They welcomed in one of the top teams in AAA on Friday when Winston Academy came to town and the matchup that many had been waiting for did not disappoint. Bruce Allsup’s squad got off to slow start but settled in before giving way to some free throws in the final minute as they dropped a 36-33 game to the Lady Patriots in a defensive slugfest.

Allsup has liked what he’s seen from his team this season to this point, but he didn’t like what he saw early in the game. As things wore on, the Lady Volunteers were playing up to his standard.

Winston Academy came out of the gates with a 7-0 lead and were up 10-2 when Allsup had to call for timeout. The Lady Vols trailed Winston 13-6 after one quarter. Starkville Academy began to wake up in the second quarter when star sophomore Lillee Alpe hit three-straight 3-point field goals to tie the game at 17. As would be the case most of the game, the Lady Vols couldn’t quite get over the hump to take the lead as Winston regained the advantage for the 23-17 upper hand at the halftime break.

After that lead was 31-25 after three quarters, Starkville Academy’s defense went to work.

The Lady Vols allowed just two points over the course of the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter and that got them back in the game as Mary Peyton Passons’ driving layup tied the game at 33 with 2 minutes left.

“I finally saw a team look like they really wanted to win the game,” Allsup said. “(Winston) is so good defensively and so long. They gave us some trouble early but finally as the game went on we were able to adjust a little bit. That gave us the opportunity to get back in the ball game.”

On a couple of separate occasions, Starkville Academy had a chance to take the lead but never could get the shot it needed. With 1 minute left, Winston got two free throws from its star player Lilly Sisson and got another free throw from Madelyn Bright to give the Lady Patriots a 36-33 lead with 9 seconds left.

Starkville Academy got the ball into Alpe’s hands for a last shot on a 3-pointer, but it was blocked and Aubrey Campbell’s try was missed as the Lady Patriots took home the win.

In the loss, the Lady Vols (13-7, 1-2) were led by Alpe, who poured in 21 points and four 3-pointers.

“We expect a lot out of Lillee," Allsup said. "We expect her to handle the ball for us and score for us and she gets better and better. I don’t know if we take that for granted, but we just expect that out of her.”

Starkville Academy is back in action against Hebron next Thursday before getting back to district play to take on Canton Academy.

Boys Game
Winston Academy 70,
Starkville Academy 47

Allsup saw enough from his boys team to know that they just got out-played against the Winston boys.

The Patriots took a double digit lead in the third quarter and Starkville Academy shot itself further in a hole and on the way to the loss.

The Vols (7-10, 0-3), were just 4-of-26 from 3-point range in the game. Many of those shots ended with a Winston Academy rebound as the Patriots controlled the game for most of the four quarters.

“I thought they whipped us in every phase of the game," Allsup said. "I think our kids understand that. We’re not the type of team that can come out and not be ready to play. They hit us in the mouth and we got in panic mode. When you get in panic mode the snowball effect comes into play. You’ve got to give Winston a lot of credit. They outplayed us.”

Winston jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but the Vols closed it to 12-11 and it stayed nip and tuck for most of the second quarter with the two teams trading leads. Winston found a little bit of separation at halftime with a 28-22 lead and the momentum carried them in the third.

The Patriots went on a 9-2 run in the first 2 minutes of the third quarter to jump out to a 12-point lead at 39-27. Things never got closer from there as they put together a 22-point quarter to lead 50-37 after three quarters. Winston Academy continued that into the final frame.

Jawon Yarbrough led the way for the Vols in the win with 20 points before fouling out. They also got double digits from sophomore Logan Roach, who had 10 points.

Allsup was especially impressed with Roach, who has fought through a back injury to become a key contributor.

“It was good to see (Roach) come in and give us some really good minutes,” Allsup said. “As bad as (Friday) was, he was a bright spot. I thought he played really well. He was aggressive with his shot and looked like he had fresh legs. I was very pleased to see him do that.”