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By JOEL COLEMAN
Starkville Academy's Anna Lea Little and Nora Kathryn Carroll did it all Saturday in the Lady Vols' 57-39 home win over Hillcrest Christian.
They scored, totaling 37 points, including a combined 8-of-10 from 3-point range.
They rebounded, gathering in a total of 11.
Most importantly, according to SA head coach Glenn Schmidt, Little and Carroll displayed strong defense, as did the entire Lady Vols squad.
"They both had a really good defensive game and the whole team had a really good defensive game," said Schmidt. "Of course, all the fans like to see those points, and I do too, but I like to see our young players playing defense."
That defensive prowess sparked SA to a 23-18 halftime advantage.
The game was tied at seven after one quarter, but Brittany Jacks, Carroll, and Lauren Atwell all sunk baskets in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter to put the Lady Vols up 13-7.
SA never trailed again, thanks in large part to Hillcrest's inability to shut down the Lady Vols' shooters, particularly Little and Carroll, throughout the game.
"I'm really proud of the way we shot," said Schmidt. "It's a game-in, game-out thing, but it's a start to having the confidence to shoot like that. We made shots. We took shots that were open and we made shots. And (Hillcrest) gave us shots. I couldn't believe they kept giving us the outside shots. So when they give them to you and they don't allow you to go inside, you've got to take the shots."
Aside from her team's solid defensive play and sharp-shooting, Schmidt found plenty of other reasons to smile.
One such reason was the play of junior point guard Anna Prestridge.
"She had five assists and no turnovers," said Schmidt of Prestridge. "That really helps when your point guard is able to do that."
Sallie Kate Richardson also drew praise from Schmidt for a nine-rebound performance.
In fact, Schmidt gave credit to her entire team, from the top to the bottom.
"It's a situation for us where we've had different people score in different games," said Schmidt. "Our bench played really well. They all did exactly what they had to do, didn't make a lot of mistakes, and played really good defense."
Aside from Little's 19 and Carroll's 18, no other SA player reached double-figures in scoring.
Jessica Griffin scored a team-high 17 points for Hillcrest, followed by Kristin Kliesch, who scored 12.
The Lady Vols win improves their record to 3-3.
Hillcrest took its first loss of the season, falling to 1-1.
Schmidt believes Saturday's win is just the type of victory her young team needs to move forward.
"We needed a good game like this to build our confidence," said Schmidt. "When you're playing two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup, you have those moments where confidence is a factor. But when you play good team defense, that helps you a lot."