It's easy these days to strike up a conversation about the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers and their accomplishments this season.
While attending the Diamond Classic at Mississippi State on Friday, one of the topics of conversation was Starkville Academy girls basketball. For those who don't know, the Diamond Classic is a baseball event and hoops was the subject being talked about.
All an individual has to do these days is mention the first and sometimes middle names of Sallie Kate, Nora Kathryn, Maggie and Anna Lea and even part of a first name Tiff, and people know exactly who those young ladies play for and that they are doing something special right now.
The interest that the Lady Vols are creating in Starkville right now is amazing and it's good to see the community rallying around their success.
On Saturday, Starkville Academy captured the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA State championship by defeating Madison-Ridgeland Academy 64-29. The Lady Vols improved their record to 40-0.
SA's Class AAA title came on the heels of getting the AAA-Division II State trophy last week at Hillcrest Christian School.
Winning the latest championship did not come without a challenge as the Lady Vols were pushed to the limit by Presbyterian Christian in the semifinals on Friday afternoon. Starkville Academy trailed 33-21 before coming back to take a 40-37 decision.
Anna Lea Little of the Lady Vols said it was just a matter of getting back to playing their game.
"We really didn't play our game for the first three quarters, but we were able to get it together and just come back," Little said. "We believed in ourselves in that fourth quarter that we could come back and win.
(Saturday), we were just so relieved that we came out here, played and relaxed."
Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt cares about her players and the effort they put in for the good of the team.
When the AAA All-Tournament Team was announced and one of her five starters was left off, Schmidt made sure she went to that player and made sure she knew how valuable she was.
Schmidt said the Lady Vols are in the position they are because of the way the players go about their business.
"It's the people that are doing it," Schmidt said. "Everybody kept saying, how in the world did you make the comeback? It's the people that are playing. It's the work they put in and everything in their life that's built them up to this point. They just won't quit. To come back (Saturday), I knew if we could find a way to play our game, it would help us get past some of our jitters."
Little, Maggie Proffitt, Tiffany Huddleston, Nora Kathryn Carroll and Sallie Kate Richardson are five solid starters for SA that seem to feed off each other.
Richardson likes the chemistry the Lady Vols have on the court.
"If one person is hitting, it gets everyone else going," Richardson said. "It's really good and we connect really good as a team."
It's been quite a run for the Starkville Academy girls program over the past couple of years and there's only one more week remaining at the MAIS Overall State Tournament in Clinton to cap a repeat of last year's three-peat.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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