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By DANNY P. SMITH
The game could have very easily gotten away from the Starkville Christian School Cougars Thursday night.
After falling behind 29-20 near the end of the third quarter, the Cougars were potentially looking at their third-straight loss to open the season.
However, Starkville Christian responded with a fourth-quarter rally and defeated Tupelo Prep Christian 40-35 at home.
The Cougars (1-2) out-scored the visiting Eagles 17-6 in the fourth quarter with Aaron Bowman getting eight of his game-high 15 points.
Starkville Christian coach Jonathan Little was happy to see his squad come through in the clutch. It was his first victory as coach of the Cougars.
"It gives us a lot of confidence that's for sure," Little said. "We've had some close losses and have been playing well, but now we have proved to ourselves that we can really play. It builds a lot of confidence and momentum going forward."
With Tupelo leading 33-27 with 4:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, baskets by Chris Horstemeyer, Micah Little and Bowman tied the game at 33-33 at the 2:39 mark.
The Eagles regained the advantage with 2 minutes left, but a pair of free throws by Bowman tied the game once again.
After Paul Michael Calhoun hit a free throw to give Starkville Christian a 36-35 lead with 52.5 seconds remaining, he came up with a crucial steal at 30 seconds.
"A big sequence was when Aaron Bowman made some clutch free throws and lay ups and Paul Michael played great defense," Little said. "Those two guys really carried us tonight."
The Cougars closed out the game with a basket by Horstemeyer and another free throw by Calhoun.
Bowman led SCS with 15 points, while Calhoun also scored in double figures with 11.
The Starkville Christian girls didn't fare as well, losing a 72-22 decision to Tupelo Christian. Charity Morris and Mary Grace White had 10 points each for the Lady Eagles.