Starkville Christian teams split home games with Grace Christian

Sports Editor

It takes production to be able to earn playing time on the basketball court.

That's what Lana Ballard provided the Starkville Christian Lady Cougars on Thursday night.

Ballard scored a game-high 10 points as the Lady Cougars defeated the Grace Christian Lady Eagles 43-20.

"She's one of my junior varsity girls that has a bright future if she will stick with it," Starkville Christian basketball coach Luke Buckner said of Ballard.

Ballard scored a pair of baskets and Tanner Smith also had four points as the Lady Cougars jumped out to a 16-2 after one quarter.

Starkville Christian outscored Grace 10-6 in the second quarter to expand its advantage to 26-8 at halftime.

"I think we did do really well on defense," Olivia Moore of the Lady Cougars said. "We did well shutting things down and we knew where their passes were going to be.

"I think we had some good things going offensively. We had some good shots, some good looks and some good reads down the court. Lana had a good defensive game and offensively game. That was a good game, but we need to be great."

Buckner was able to clear his bench and used many different combinations in the second half.

"It was good that we got some of our younger girls in there," Buckner said.

Along with Ballard, Smith scored eight points for Starkville Christian.

The Lady Cougars improved their record to 8-2 and host Hebron Christian on Monday night.

Boys Game
Grace Christian 52,
Starkville Christian 40

The Cougars had what Buckner called the best quarter of basketball all season, but they couldn't sustain the momentum and dropped the home decision to the visiting Eagles.

Starkville Christian (3-5) started strong with a 12-2 run to open the game and had its largest lead of 17-5 with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter on a basket by Tony Minor.

Grace Christian came back to tie the game at 20-20 with 3:30 left in the second quarter, but 3-point field goals by Minor and Wyatt Johnson put the Cougars up 26-22 at half.

The Eagles opened the second half on a 10-0 run and Starkville Christian saw its four-point advantage turn into a six-point deficit.

"We fell apart in the second half and got out-rebounded all game long," Buckner said. "(Grace) did a good job, hustled and did a good job rebounding. The boards basically lost the game for us, but I'm proud of the guys. They worked hard."

Even when it appeared Grace was going to take control of the game midway through the third quarter, the Cougars scored seven-straight points to take a 33-32 lead at the 1:20 mark on another 3-pointer by Minor.

The Eagles closed the third quarter on a 6-0 run to get a 38-33 advantage and Starkville Christian never saw the lead again.

A basket by Minor cut the margin to 40-36 with 5:45 remaining in the game, but the Cougars got no closer.

Minor finished the game with 20 points with four 3-pointers made, while Isaac Buckner added nine points and Johnson contributed eight points.