Talley's free throw completes sweep for SHS basketball

Staff Writer

Tyler Talley walked to the free-throw line Thursday night at The Beehive with the game on the line.

Only 3 seconds remained in a tied contest. Despite the fact Talley had been sinking 3s all night long from all over the court, this was his toughest shot all evening. With the pressure on, Talley came through.

He hit one of his two shots from the charity stripe and it was enough as Meridian missed a desperation shot at the buzzer and Starkville came away with a 60-59 win to improve to 2-0 for the early season.

It was fitting that Talley was the man who got to play hero at the end considering his hot hand throughout the game.

“Who else would you rather have there than Tyler?” Yellow Jackets assistant coach Qu’varius Howard said.

Talley had proven his worth all night long. He scored a team-best 24 points, including seven 3-pointers. Three of his treys came during a critical third-quarter stretch that allowed the Jackets to fight their way back in a game that they once trailed by double figures, including a 42-32 deficit at halftime.

That all changed after the intermission. Talley sank a trio of 3s over a short third-quarter stretch and by the end of the period, Starkville and Meridian were knotted at 50-50. Much of the credit went to the red hot Talley.

“My coaches just keep telling me that even if I’m missing, just keep shooting the ball and know the next one will go in,” Talley said.

The Jackets polished off the victory in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t without late drama. Meridian surged back ahead 59-57 with just over a minute to go. After Starkville tied the game on the ensuing trip down the floor, Meridian then had the chance to hold for the final shot.

With time winding down, Meridian’s Treamon Pittman missed a 3-pointer from the corner. Talley went up for a rebound and was fouled with 3 seconds left on the clock and he headed back down the floor and deliver his game-winning free throw.

Just like that, Starkville’s comeback was complete.

“It was big for our guys,” Howard said. “We lost a lot from last year’s guard play with our seniors (graduating), so for the young guys coming up, it was good to fight back. We got down early. We weren’t playing like ourselves. It was our first home game and everybody was anxious. Once we got going though, I think we locked in on defense and defended them pretty well and cut down on some things (Meridian) did on offense, then Tyler made some big shots and got some things towards the rim and we made the comeback.”

The Jackets believe the victory can be a springboard to bigger things as the year moves along.

“We just needed to get through this,” Talley said. “This makes us better as a team and will help us as the season goes on.”

Girls Game
Starkville 61,
Meridian 47

Before the Starkville boys picked up a big come-from-behind win, the Lady Yellow Jackets set the theme for the evening with a comeback of their own.

Starkville trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter before storming back to earn its first win of the year and improve to 1-1.

It was a great way for Starkville head coach Kristie Williams to cap off the evening on what was her birthday.

“It was a lot of growing moments for us in this game,” Williams said. “We’ve got a lot of players in positions where they haven’t had to step up before. Now they’re wearing the big pants and have to step up and play hard. What I really enjoyed seeing was the total effort. Baskets weren’t falling early around the rim, but we didn’t give up our effort. They made a big run and went up 10, but we still didn’t bow down.
“That’s what you’ve got to have if you’re playing at any level.”

Down 24-14 in the second quarter, Starkville then reeled off a 23-0 run that extended into the third period. Suddenly, the Lady Jackets were in total control up 37-24. Williams credited Starkville’s charge to a shift in defensive strategy.

“We usually thrive off our man-to-man defense, but (Meridian) kept getting in the lane and getting easy drives,” Williams said. “I couldn’t allow that to continue throughout the rest of the game so going to zone really helped us out. We tell (the team) they all have to be prepared to change offensively or defensively throughout the course of a game in order to give us the best opportunity to win. They adjusted well once we put them in the 2-3 (zone). That’ll open up the doors for us to get stops then get transition buckets.”

Jalisa Outlaw led Starkville with 18 points. Amaya Ford scored 11.

One of the biggest boosts the Lady Jackets received all night though came from post presence Idalis Suell, who scored 14 points and hauled down critical rebound after rebound.

“I have been so proud of (Suell) staying in it with me,” Williams said. “She hasn’t had big moments where she could be on the floor a lot throughout her career but now, going into her senior year, I told her, ’This is your shining moment.’ (Thursday) she showed that she’s ready. I can’t say enough about her work ethic in practice, then she showed up (Thursday). When you work really hard, you get rewarded. She found a way to score for us. She got some rebounds and that’s what you want from your senior post player.”

With Suell and her teammates surging in the second half, Meridian never truly threatened to make a comeback of its own. The Lady Jackets led 45-36 after three quarters, then rolled to the win.

“That’s what I like – just that drive and determination to finish out the game,” Williams said.