Strong effort: Senior comes up big to help Lady Jackets win

Amaria Strong takes a shot for the Starkville Lady Yellow Jackets on Tuesday night. (Photo by Cody Jenkins, for Starkville Daily News)

Sports Editor

Amaria Strong knows she doesn't have many games left in her Starkville High School career.

That's why the senior Lady Yellow Jacket wants to give an all-out effort each time she steps onto the court the rest of the season.

Strong scored a game-high 19 points and helped SHS defeat the West Point Lady Green Wave 59-47 on Tuesday night.

With the victory over the Lady Green Wave, the Lady Jackets improved their overall record to 13-3.

There are only four more regular season games left with three of them coming at home so there is only one thing on Strong's mind.

"Just to win because we've got just a few more home games left," Strong said.

After Jalisa Outlaw opened the scoring for SHS with a basket, West Point took a 4-2 lead with four points from Jamia Hollings.

Strong had a bucket to tie the game, then hit a 3-point field goal to give the Lady Jackets a 7-4 advantage and they did not trail again in the game.

"I'm proud of her leadership as a senior," SHS girls coach Kristie Williams said about Strong. "She doesn't mind taking the big shot or guarding the best player on the opposite team. She is going to give me everything she's got and that's what we need out of our seniors."

The Lady Jackets stretched the margin to 19-6 after the first quarter, but saw West Point close the gap back to 26-23 with 1:51 remaining in the second quarter before going on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 33-23 at halftime.

Even going down by 10 points again, the Lady Green Wave showed some fight and trimmed the deficit back to 33-29 with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

SHS regained control of the game and went up 48-35 after three quarters. A basket by Outlaw made the lead to 50-35 early in the fourth quarter.
West Point still did not go away.

A 10-0 run by the Lady Green Wave got them back to within five points at 50-45 with 3:55 showing in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Jackets were literally "Strong" down the stretch of the outing with four more points by Strong, two free throws by Amaya Ford and a basket by Breanna Young to close out the contest.

After winning 63-43 in West Point early in the season, Williams knew it was not going to be an easy task for SHS the second time around against the rival from Clay County.

"It's one of those where you play a team for the second time around and it's like you get comfortable from what you saw the first time," Williams said. "Everybody gets better and that's what we've got to continue to understand.

"At this time of the year, everyone is giving their very best effort no matter who the opponent is. Whether we've played them before or not, you have to be ready to go. There were some moments where we looked good at what we did and there were some where we were just taking bad shots and not playing defense well. Those are things we'll continue to keep grinding out."

Along with Strong, Ford scored 13 points and Outlaw added 11 points for the Lady Jackets, who play at Northwest Rankin on Friday.

For West Point, Shania Givens led the way with 16 points and Hollings added 11 points.

Coach Dash Daniel said the Lady Green Wave continue to be a work in progress.

"We're improving," Daniel said. "We're just young. That's all it is. We're reversing the ball to eighth graders."

Boys Game
Starkville 82,
West Point 35

The Jackets hit the 20-win mark this season after another impressive victory.

SHS jumped out to a 20-8 lead after the first quarter and stretched the margin out to 38-16 by halftime.

Atavius "Tank" Jones had 12 points to pace the Jackets in scoring, but they also got 11 points each by Tyler Talley and 10 points from Zeke Cook.

Talley and Coltie Young sank three shots each from 3-point range for SHS. The Jackets (20-1) also make the trip down Highway 25 on Friday to Northwest Rankin.

The Green Wave had eight points each from Dishone Cooperwood and Chiante Henderson.