There's no denying the size of the heart of the Starkville Academy Volunteers.
Anyone who witnessed last Saturday night's 67-65 victory in three overtimes over Washington School could tell the Vols still had much fight left in them.
Starkville Academy boys coach Mark Alexander called the win "one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of as a coach," and really wasn't sure how it happened, but finding a way to win just showed the resilient nature of his team.
"That tells the story of our season and what our team has been about," Alexander said. "We've played so many close games."
The Vols have emerged into the second week of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools postseason. They play against Madison-Ridgeland Academy today at the Class AAA State Tournament. The tip is set for 5:15 p.m. at Jackson Academy.
On its way to the third seed out of Class AAA, Division II, Starkville Academy claimed victories over Heritage 56-41 and Washington School with a loss of Magnolia Heights 58-51 sandwiched in between.
Alexander's Vols dodged a bullet at the end of regulation when Washington School missed a shot from about 8 feet out, which would have won the game. In the first overtime, Brandon Weseli drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie it, then in the second overtime, Carnail Minor hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer with three defender guarding very closely.
SA was down by six points in the third overtime, but found a way with a steal and a basket to win the game.
With that result fresh in his mind, Alexander knows that the Vols will give their best effort against MRA (22-14), a team that has beaten SA twice during the regular season.
"We're going to go in there knowing that and we're going to have our work cut out for us, but by no means are we going in there to lay down and I don't expect these guys to do that," Alexander said. "They haven't done it all year and I don't expect them to do it (today). It's one game. If we play a best of 10 series with MRA, they may win seven, eight or nine of the games, but anything can happen in a one-shot deal, so that's how we're going to approach it."
The Vols have a record of 17-15, the first winning season in five years for boys basketball.
Alexander is proud of his team to have advanced as far as it has and that makes SA hungry for more.
"We're not satisfied," Alexander said. "We want to keep on going. If you go this far into the year, you are going to play somebody good. Anybody you get matched up against, you are going to see a quality team."