Postseason begins: Starkville Academy boys look for victory to keep on playing

Starkville Academy's Ben Guest

Staff Writer

It’s that time of year in basketball where any game could be the last for area teams. That’s certainly the case for the Starkville Academy boys Tuesday night.

The Volunteers are heading to Leake Academy at 6:15 p.m. to begin the MAIS District 2-AAA Tournament. It’s a place that head coach Bruce Allsup is all too familiar with as he took Starkville Academy's boys to the North State title game in that gym just two years ago.  

He’s hoping that the same magic happens with a much younger team this year. The Vols start it with a matchup between four and five seeds in what is essentially an elimination game with the loser finishing up the season. The two teams have split their respective games with each other this year.  

“I think we’re pretty evenly matched with WInston," Allsup said. "They won on our home court and we won on ours. The thing about this game is that you have to win or you take up the uniforms for the year. For this young basketball team, it would be big for us to play some more games. We’re trying to get as much experience as we can.” 

The SA boys (10-15) have grown quite a bit since the beginning of the season with fresh faces all over the court and even some production from freshmen players.  

The team has begun to find its footing as Allsup’s teams normally do this time of year.  

“I feel like our mindset is good right now,” Allsup said. “They want to continue playing. We played at MRA on Friday night and played fairly well. We're looking pretty good right now and we’re excited about playing again.”  

While the Lady Vols aren’t playing for their season in their game, they’ve got plenty to fight for when they also play Winston Academy.  

That game is set for Thursday in a semifinal matchup set for 4 p.m. and Starkville Academy (19-9) has redemption on its mind. In each of the games the two teams played this season, Winston Academy snuck out with three point wins and Lillee Alpe had her game-tying shot blocked both times.  

Allsup is going to continue to go to Alpe for big plays because he knows she’s going to make them. 

“When it comes to our basketball team, the majority of our scoring comes from Lillee and Mary Peyton (Passons) and we’re very comfortable with either one of them taking the final shots,” Allsup said. “The thing about Winston is they have so much length and they’re very good defensively. Winston has beaten us twice by three points both times, but we felt like we could have won both games.”  

If the Lady Vols can get past Winston Academy for the first time this year, they’ll likely have to go through the state’s top AAA team and the host squad Leake. Allsup isn’t taking any of the games for granted from here on out and Starkville Academy will play it like it's their last.  

“The good thing about this game is we don’t have to worry about winning to keep playing," Allsup said. "You've still got to have a great game. You know that you’re going to have a war on Thursday and then the winner has to probably suit up and play against Leake in the finals on Saturday.”