JACKSON – Starkville Academy’s girls are one step away from being Class AAA, Division II State champions after defeating Hillcrest Christian in the semifinals 79-37 on Friday.
“We had a good one,” Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said. “It was a huge team effort. We had five players in double figures and two with double rebounds. Everybody really came together and we pulled it off.”
The Lady Vols started the game on an 8-2 run, but quickly found themselves in a battle as they only led 13-11 following the first period.
“The girls were a little tight in the beginning,” Schmidt said. “Hillcrest tried to slow the game down and that was a factor as it got us out of our rhythm.”
Hillcrest took a 16-15 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the second. Starkville Academy then engaged in a 15-6 run to take a six-point lead, closing out the half leading 30-22.
Starkville Academy dominated the third period of action, outscoring the Lady Cougars 30-7 and putting the game out of reach at 60-29 heading into the final period.
Looking back, Schmidt knows the Lady Vols gave it their all in the third as they experienced what she calls “one of those third quarters that you have to have to wake everyone up.”
During the fourth period, Starkville Academy put the game on cruise control as it rolled to a victory.
The Lady Vols had five players in double figures, including Maggie Proffitt with 25 points. Anna Leigh Little with 18 points, while Sallie Kate Richardson and Nora Kathryn Carroll had 11 points each, and Tiffany Huddleston posted 10 points.
Little and Richardson both ended their nights with double-doubles as they brought down 10 and 13 rebounds, respectively.
Up next, Starkville Academy (36-0) plays East Rankin today at 2:15 p.m.
Magnolia Heights 58,
Starkville Academy 51
The Volunteers took the court on Friday evening for a battle with Magnolia Heights that ultimately saw Starkville Academy lose 58-51.
It was a fight for the top during the first period as the Volunteers outscored the Chiefs by two points to hold a 15-13 lead.
Back and forth play continued into the second period, but things began to swing in favor of Magnolia Heights. As the buzzer sounded to send the teams to the locker rooms, the Chiefs held a 31-20 lead over the Volunteers.
Magnolia Heights extended its lead during the third period to 15 points as it clung to a 44-29 lead heading into the final moments of action.
Starkville Academy bounced back in the fourth period. With a minute to play, the Volunteers cut Magnolia Heights’ lead to four points, but after an offensive foul on Starkville Academy, the Chiefs tacked on a few more points to walk away with the win.
Leading the way for the Vols was Carnail Minor with 20 points followed by Brandon Sharp, who scored 13 points.
After the game, Starkville Academy coach Mark Alexander expressed appreciation of his team’s effort.
“I’m proud of the way the entire team played, especially the two seniors," Alexander said. "It was their effort that fueled the comeback.”
With the loss, the Volunteers saw their record slip to 16-15 overall and will face the loser of the Washington Academy-Hillcrest Christian game tonight at 6 p.m.