CLINTON – The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers have reached their third-straight state tournament finals.
With Friday's 51-41 victory against Jackson Prep on Friday, Starkville Academy reserved its spot in the championship game of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall Tournament.
The opponent will be Madison-Ridgeland Academy, a team the Lady Vols have already beaten twice this season. The game tips at 1 p.m. from the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton.
MRA is coached by former SA girls coach Stephen Force.
It is the hope of the Lady Vols that fans can make the trip and provide support because it is essentially a home game for MRA.
"We need a lot of support because MRA is local (to the Clinton area) so they'll have it," Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt said.
Schmidt respects the job that Force has done at MRA and credited him on the job he did at SA also.
She also applauds the Lady Vols for the way they have been playing the last three weeks in winning two state championships and get in a position for a third.
"It's fun to watch them, but they are not through," Schmidt said. "They are going to come back and play well (today). They are focused and ready to go. Of course, everybody is right now."
Starkville Academy jumped out to a 14-5 lead after the first quarter against Jackson Prep. It extended the margin to 28-11 by halftime.
"We played well in the first half and held them to 11 points," Schmidt said. "We held them about as low as we could because they came back strong second half. We adjusted to their pressure and pulled it off."
Jackson Prep outscored the Lady Vols 15-6 in the third quarter to close the gap to 34-26, but couldn't get any closer. SA held a 17-15 advantage in the final quarter.
The Lady Vols were able to get the victory despite Jackson Prep having the advantage in certain key statistical categories. Prep out-rebounded SA 31-29 and the Lady Patriots shot 32 percent from the field (14-of-44), while holding the Lady Vols to 29 percent (16-of-55).
Starkville Academy did force 16 turnovers.
Anna Lea Little had a double-double for the Lady Vols with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sallie Kate Richardson and Tiffany Huddleston had 12 points each.
Starkville Academy takes a 37-5 overall record into today's matchup against MRA.