Team effort and leadership can go a long way to having success in athletic competition.
On Saturday, the Starkville Academy Volunteers used those areas against the Copiah Academy Colonels where after being down by 10 points, they mounted an impressive comeback to win 58-53.
While the last minute heroics are certainly impressive, the team’s coach is not a big fan of what it is doing to his health.
“I told them after the game that I am too old for all this,” SA boys coach Mark Alexander said with a smile. “I am so proud of their effort. Scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter, you can’t say enough about that, but they are absolutely killing me with the stress.”
Following a 7-2 run by Copiah, action between the two teams tightened and play went back and forth. As the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the first quarter, the score reflected the tightness as the teams were separated by two with the Colonels holding a 14-12 lead.
Copiah’s Ty Quick dominated second period action with 10 points, but even with his impressive post play Starkville Academy hung around and as the half concluded, the Volunteers trailed 26-21.
Coming out of half, Copiah took control of the game racing out to 10-point lead as the clock ticked down. With seconds left in the period, Caleb Merchant hit a shot to cut the Colonels lead to eight heading into the final period.
Right on the heels of his third period shot, Merchant opened the fourth with a layup to make it 41-35.
Merchant’s shots sparked something in the Volunteers as the team appeared reenergized. The energy of the team carried over onto the court as Starkville Academy fought back to within one point of the Colonels with under a minute to play.
Carnail Minor came through in a major way for the Volunteers as the senior sunk a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give Starkville Academy a 53-51 lead.
Brandon Sharp then hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 55-51, before the team allowed Copiah to find the basket.
With 14 seconds remaining, Bradley Weseli stepped to the charity stripe where the junior hit a trio of shots to seal the Volunteers’ victory.
“We picked up our defensive intensity during the final period and I thought that was a big difference,” Alexander said. “Carnail had struggled earlier in the game, but at the end, I asked him if he was ready and he said ‘I got you coach’ and then he went out there and nailed it.”
Following their impressive comeback Starkville Academy moves to (10-9 overall, 5-2 in Class AAA, District 2). On Tuesday, the team will travel to face Hillcrest Christian.
Starkville Academy 55
Copiah Academy 12
Defense wins games.
A couple of weeks ago Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said she wants the Lady Vols to be known for more than just an offensive team. She wants defense to be their “bread and butter.”
On Saturday afternoon, SA demonstrated that desire with unprecedented accuracy as it held Copiah Academy scoreless for a large majority of the game.
Beginning with a 13-0 run, the Lady Vols got off to a fast start which allowed them to play their game.
“We started off really strong,” Schmidt said. “After a tough game (Friday) night, they were a little hungry (Saturday). They believe that if they start the game fast, hard and strong, then it makes a difference and it does.
“Getting out early allows us to control the game and I have always felt it was better to let our team know that our game is more important than the other team’s game and if we do what we do well, then it is up to the other team to stop us.”
In addition to the 13-0 run, SA scored another 14 points to take a 27-5 lead into the second frame.
The defense of the Lady Vols stepped up during the second as the team held the Lady Colonels to a single basket and took a 37-7 lead into halftime.
SA's defense continued domination during the third period. With the offense posting 14 points, defensively the Lady Vols held Copiah scoreless to head into the final period leading 51-7.
With her team controlling the game offensively and defensively, Schmidt had the opportunity to bring in some of her younger players and give them some much-needed game experience.
“We held them scoreless for most of the second and all of the third which allowed us to take a comfortable lead and bring in some younger bench players,” Schmidt said. “I was relieved knowing we could do that and that our kids who come in, they play hard. They play as hard as the starters.”
Starkville Academy shot 47.8 percent from the field and was 5-for-11 from 3-point range.
Maggie Proffitt finished her night as the team’s leader with 17 points, followed by Sallie Kate Richardson and Anna Lea Little, who both scored nine.
With the win, the Lady Vols move to 23-0 overall.