JACKSON – Intense is the only way to describe the action taking place in Jackson Academy’s gym on Friday afternoon.
All records were put aside and previous games did not matter as Starkville Academy and Presbyterian Christian School tipped off.
Things were tight all game long, but in the end, the Lady Volunteers pulled off a very close 40-37 victory.
“Their defensive pressure in the half court gave us problems,” Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said. “They were physical and we couldn’t get shots to fall. Our press defense helped us get back into the game when we were down.
“The thing is...everybody we play against now can play. We are very thankful to be playing for a state championship.”
In the majority of games played this season, the Lady Vols have started things moving very fast offensively and characteristically have found themselves leading throughout the game. Friday was a tad different. Although the game never got out of hand, Starkville Academy found itself in a strange place as they trailed PCS following the first period.
Giving credit where it is due, the Lady Bobcats played a seemingly perfect period of basketball to start things off which resulted in the team holding a 10-9 lead heading into the second period of play.
Starkville Academy regrouped as competition continued. Holding PCS scoreless, the Lady Vols went on a 5-0 run to hold a 14-10 lead as the second period progressed.
The Lady Bobcats answered back scoring six points to end the first half with Starkville Academy leading by two points as the score stood 18-16.
Third period action was highlighted by a resurgence of PCS. With 2:21 remaining in the quarter, the Lady Bobcats led 22-19. To end the frame, PCS outscored Starkville Academy 4-3 to hold a 26-21 lead as the fourth period approached.
PCS maintained its lead through the beginning of the final period, holding a 35-33 lead with 3:16 remaining.
At the 3-minute mark action began to really heat up. Scoring went back and forth right until the very end.
At the 2:14 mark, Starkville Academy regained a 36-35 lead, but it was short lived as the Lady Bobcats moved back ahead 37-36 with 1:21 remaining.
The Lady Vols returned to the top at the 40-second mark leading 38-37. PCS was not able to score or stop Starkville Academy during the final seconds as the Lady Vols scored once more to claim their tightest victory of the season.
Sallie Kate Richardson and Anna Lea Little were clutch for Starkville Academy as they led the team with 11 and 10 points respectively. Rounding out the top five Lady Vols scorers were Nora Kathryn Carroll with eight points, Tiffany Huddleston who posted seven points and Maggie Proffitt who ended the game with four points.
Leading the way for the Lady Bobcats was Trista Magee with 20 points, followed by Hannah McCarter with seven points.
Next up for Starkville Academy will be a trip to the AAA state title game today where the team looks to move to 40-0 overall and repeat as champions. Facing Madison-Ridgeland Academy, tipoff is set for 2:15 p.m. on Jackson Academy’s court.
The Lady Vols victory also insured the team a spot in next week’s overall MAIS championship tournament.