Sweep three-peat: For third-straight season, SHS boys, girls win all regular season games in division

Starkville High School sophomore guard Jada Odneal, left, tries to work her way out of a double team.

Sports Editor

Jalisa Outlaw and her Starkville Lady Yellow Jacket teammates were focused and having fun on Thursday night.

Anyone who witnessed the 56-32 win over the Murrah Lady Mustangs could tell the Lady Jackets were enjoying a good time.

“It’s like loving the game, having a passion about it and going in there and executing,” Outlaw said.

With the victory in the final Class 6A, Region 3 regular season game, Starkville improved to 17-3 overall and 6-0 in the division. It's the third-straight season that the Lady Jackets have swept division competition.
It's an accomplishment that SHS head coach Kristie Williams doesn't take lightly.

“This is our third year in a row to sweep it like this and it’s tough," Williams said. "It’s tough in our district. To continue to do that just shows how hard these young ladies work day in and out. We’re closing out the district as regular season champs and that’s pretty awesome.”

The Lady Jackets scored the first seven points of the game against the Lady Mustangs, which all came from seniors Outlaw and Breanna Young.

Murrah came back to tie the game at 11-11 by the end of the first quarter, then scored the first points of the second quarter to take a 13-11 advantage. That was the only lead for the Lady Mustangs.

A 3-point field goal by Starkville’s Jada Odneal started a 9-0 run that put the Lady Jackets up 20-13 with 3:54 remaining in the second quarter.

Outlaw closed the first half with a basket as Starkville held 28-21 lead at halftime.

The Lady Jackets turned up the defense in the third quarter and outscored the Lady Mustangs 10-2 in those 8 minutes to take control of the outing at 38-23.

Williams saw her team get the job done with its hustle.

“We’ve been working harder on that because a lot of times the ball won’t fall for us,” Williams said. “If we continue to hustle, we’ll get turnovers and get some good layups. That’s what it’s all about this time of the year.”

Outlaw finished the game with 20 points for SHS, while fellow senior Amaria Strong also scored in double digits with 12 points. Another senior Idalis Suell was next in the scoring column with six points.

The seniors will be recognized Friday night when the Jackets and Lady Jackets host Noxubee County in the final regular season games.

Boy's Game
Starkville 78,
Murrah 57

It was a bench-mark win on Thursday night for the Starkville Yellow Jackets.

Atavius "Tank" Jones, Forte Prater, Coltie Young and Eric Green all came off the bench to score 57 of the 78 points for the Jackets in the 78-57 win over Murrah.

The SHS coaching staff knows what the reserves are capable of doing on the court because they see how they go about their business in preparation.

"They play together every day in practice when we are scrimmaging and going up and down the court, so they've got good chemistry," Jackets assistant coach Qu'varius Howard said. "They don't mind passing the ball. They just came in tonight, we called on them and they answered."

Starkville improved its overall record to 23-1 and like the girls have won all six Class 6A, Region 3 regular season games. The Jackets also join the girls in sweeping division opponents in the regular season for three consecutive years.

After Murrah jumped out on top with a free throw, Starkville took its first lead of the game at 2-1 on a basket by Zeke Cook.

The Mustangs played well in the first quarter and a dunk put them up 13-7 at the 2-minute mark.

That's about when Jones entered the game for the Jackets and went to work. He scored eight points down the stretch of the first quarter and helped SHS get the game tied 16-16 after 8 minutes played.

Four quick points by the Jackets on baskets by Jamarvis Phillips and Jones gave the Jackets a 20-16 advantage with 7 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The Mustangs closed the margin to 20-19 on a 3-point field goal, but Young and Prater got the next five points for Starkville to stretch the spread to 25-19.

Even with another 3-pointer that got Murrah to within 25-22, the Jackets kept finding ways to hold off the charge by the Mustangs. Young hit two more shots, with one another 3-pointer, and Jones scored his 12th point of the first half as SHS took a 32-23 lead.

The Jackets held a 42-28 advantage at halftime and were never really threatened by the visitors from that point on.

Jones finished with 19 points for SHS, while Prater added 15 points, Young had 13 points and Green scored in double digits with 10 points.

Prater said the mindset coming off the bench is simple and the reason success was the result on Thursday.

"Bring a lot of energy, play good defense and make every possession count," Prater said.