Jackets hold on to beat Falcons

Staff Writer

Saturday night felt like deja vu for Starkville High against a Columbus team that had already broken its heart just a month prior.

After blowing an 18-point lead in that game at Columbus, the Yellowjackets withered down the stretch and lost the game.

They learned something that night that they put into play on Saturday in the Beehive and lightning wouldn’t strike twice.

Big defensive stops down the stretch kept SHS from giving the game away as it held off Mississippi State signee Robert Woodard and the Falcons 58-53.

“We finished (Saturday)," Jacket head coach Greg Carter said. "We made just enough plays to pull it out. We got rattled a little bit and made some terrible decisions. We’re a little bit tougher than we were last time so we made some plays.”

It was a well-balanced game for SHS, which had guards hitting shots and post players making plays on both ends of the floor. Blake Rogers finished with 28 points and Jordan Temple had 17. Temple was especially hot from the outside hitting 5-of-6 from 3-point range.

“It felt really good to see those shots go in and for us to play good defense,” Temple said. “We wanted to keep fighting even though we turned the ball over.”

It was the first game for several former football players making their return and none was bigger than Atavious Jones, who had six points down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Jones also had the task of going against Woodard to the approval of his coach.

“I thought (Jones) played really well being his first game,” Carter said. “He did a good job with (Woodard). (In the) second half, we did a much better job driving and drawing Woodard and dishing to the post man. (In the) first half, he was blocking a lot of our shots.”

In that first half, Woodard was virtually all the Falcons had. Despite the talented player starting with three blocked shots and seven points in the first quarter, it was tied at 11.

That quickly went in Starkville’s direction in the second quarter when it outscored the Falcons 17-5 and jump out to 28-16 lead at the break.

The lead stayed in double digits for most of the third quarter but was down to single digits at 44-35 going into the final quarter.

Columbus began to chip away at that nine-point lead just as it did in the last game against the two teams and had it down to 46-42 with 3 minutes remaining. Woodard hit back-to-back jumpers to trip the lead to 55-53 with less than a minute left before the Jacket defense made the stops and Donte Powers hit free throws to seal it.

Powers finished with 11 points to help get SHS to 6-3 for the year and even up the score against its rival.
Girls Game
Starkville 45, Columbus 40

Coach Kristie Williams’ Lady Yellowjackets (7-1) haven’t played a game in well over a week so there’s reason to be rusty.

She wasn’t using any excuses on Saturday for her team as it struggled to hit shots but found a way to knock off the Lady Falcons in the end.

Starkville’s top three players Jariyah Covington, Tabreea Gandy and Jalisa Outlaw shot a combined 12-of-36.

“You’ve got to find the will in your heart to say I’m ready to play every time I step on the floor,” Williams said. “Nothing is guaranteed to get back to Jackson. Columbus is a 6A school and we can easily meet them in the playoffs.”

The big three guards for Starkville did all lead the way in scoring. Covington had 12 points, Outlaw had 11 and Gandy finished with 10.

The Lady Jackets trailed in the first half 20-19 before taking over the game a bit in the third quarter. Outlaw put up eight points in the frame and gave SHS a lead it wouldn’t lose as they went up 34-26. In the fourth quarter, the Lady Jackets went up by as much as 10 points at 43-33 but coasted toward the end of the game to take the five-point win.

Starkville will take part in the Joe Horne Classic next Saturday in Columbus as they’ll play MInor (Ala.) at 11:30 a.m.

Williams wants her team to be ready to play the rest of the way.

“It was not our best effort at all," Williams said. "It was not the best display of Lady Jacket basketball. We came out with a lackadaisical effort on both ends of the floor. We’ve got to do better down the line because our schedule gets tougher.”