By DAN HAWTHORNE
For Starkville Daily News
WEST POINT – Despite what she termed some "first-game jitters," the Starkville Lady Yellowjackets of coach Kristie Williams opened the season with a 57-48 victory against West Point in the third game of the West Point Classic.
A physical game from the tip-off, it was obvious there were first-game jitters on the floor, but after 4 minutes of play it was the Green Wave who jumped out to an 8-4 advantage, their first and only lead of the game.
Starkville scored eight unanswered points to end the first period with a 12-8 advantage.
The Lady Jackets continued the run into the second quarter before West Point cut the lead to five with 5:18 to play until the break.
Starkville held strong and put up a six-point run to stretch the lead once again and led by as many as 10 points before going into halftime with a 25-19 advantage.
"We were able to fight through (jitters)," Williams said. "We had some moments where we had mental mistakes that cost us, we fouled way to much and we gave them easy points at the free-throw line. But we were able to keep up our effort and hustle throughout."
West Point came out of the locker room clicking, scoring six straights points to start the third quarter and cut the lead to just three.
Missed shots seemed to plague the Green Wave all game and it couldn't come at a worse time when Starkville went on an 11-2 run to give themselves a little more breathing room late in the third quarter.
Down by 14 after the fourth quarter, West Point wasn't ready to throw in the towel just yet, scoring 11 points in the first 4 1/2 minutes to cut the lead to seven with still plenty of time left to play.
Starkville would bend, but not break, maintaining a double digit lead down to the final minutes of the game.
SHS was led by Brittany Brown with 23 points while Kelsye Reed and Jenay Townsel combined for 15 points.
Williams says the girls need to make a few adjustments defensively on man to man and inside the paint.
"We need to always block out on the rebounds," she said. "We can't always adjust after the fact and go over their back because those are mistakes that add up on the free-throw line."
The Lady Jackets travel to Meridian to continue their three-game road swing.
In the opening games, Noxubee County swept East Oktibbeha, 53-45 in girls and 67-58 in boys action.
West Point 58
WEST POINT – Starkville began its much-anticipated boys basketball season with a win, topping West Point.
Tori Rice led the way for the Yellowjackets with a double-double, tallying 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Gavin Ware also had a double-double for SHS with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Mike Brand added nine points and seven assists for Starkville.
Jackets head coach Greg Carter said he was glad his club could begin the year with a big win.
"It feels good," said Carter. "We were anxious to play this first game. We've been practicing against each other for a long time. So we've been ready for this.
"We played pretty well. We've still got some things we need to get better at, but I think we did pretty good for a first game."