Young Vols get first district victory

Staff Writer

A young Starkville Academy team has been searching for good things to happen.

Opportunities have been there for the Volunteers, but they have not capitalized on them at times this season and it’s mounted some frustrations. They got a chance to release some of those frustrations on the road Tuesday night at Winston Academy.

After losing the first game of the series at Starkville earlier in the year, Starkville Academy held off the Patriots late in the game and found a way to win their first MAIS District 2-AAA game of the season 46-44.

“I thought we gained a lot of confidence from defending Heritage the other night so we came out and played well (Tuesday),” Vols head coach Bruce Allsup said. “WA scored 70 on us last time. We stopped penetration and hit shots. We really needed something good to happen.”

Leading the charge for Starkville Academy was junior Miller Wilson. He scored a team-high 13 points but 10 of those came in a key 14-0 run in the second half. That was a stretch where the Vols went from trailing 28-24 at the half to a 36-29 lead.

“I just knocked down shots when I needed to,” Wilson said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the last year from playing no minutes to playing a lot of minutes and it’s helped me get some confidence. I’m just glad we could find a way to win. It’s a big relief for us and should get the ball rolling.”

After Wilson’s spurt, Starkville Academy eventually took the lead out to 10 points at 44-34 in the fourth quarter.

Winston Academy made a run to cut it to one point in the final minute and was down by two with 5 seconds left, but a big defensive play by Ben Guest stripped the Patriots of the final shot and the Vols got the win.
Guest finished with 10 points as did Juwan Yarbrough as Starkville Academy improved to 10-12 and 1-8 in district play. It will now play at Canton on Friday night in the final district game of the year.

Girls Game
Winston Academy 43,
Starkville Academy 40

Earlier this season, Starkville Academy watched a 2-AAA win slip out of its hands as Lillee Alpe attempted a 3-point shot in the final seconds and was blocked to lose by three to Winston Academy.

Those painful memories came right back on Tuesday night.

Down by three, Alpe dribbled down, let the long range ball go and was rejected again by Bailie Wood. The Patriots took the home court win and the sweep over Winston Academy with a win in a tough overtime contest.

“I was really proud of how hard we played,” Allsup said. “We lost a heartbreaker last time, but we showed a lot more heart and intestinal fortitude on Tuesday. Winston is so athletic, long and lean, but we knew we could hold them. They made a couple of more plays than we did.

Alpe had scored 12 points in the game and had a big second half after scoring just two points in the opening two quarters. Meri Laci Archer had a team-high 13 points, but Starkville Academy came up three points short again.

The Lady Vols (17-9, 5-4) trailed for most of the game before Alpe made a shot and Mary Peyton Passons hit a 3-pointer to go up 25-21 with 6 minutes left. The Lady Patriots brought it back even and the rest of the way the two teams battled all the way to overtime.

It wasn’t until the final seconds that Winston Academy took a lead of three and Alpe got the last shot that was denied at the buzzer.