Hannah Buckner (20) dribbles for the Lady Cougars on Monday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Caleb Jordan showed a couple of talents on senior night at Starkville Christian School Monday night.
First, Jordan used his voice by singing the national anthem prior to the girls varsity game, then he used his basketball skill to lead the Cougars to a 65-56 win over the Kemper Academy Rams.
Jordan was one of three SCS players with double-doubles. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"It was no better way and no better person for it to happen to," Cougar head coach Alex Thompson said. "It was great to see him finish out like he did."
With the victory, Starkville Christian finished the season with a record of 16-3, which was easily the best in school history.
"We are sad to see (the end of the season), but we told these guys a the beginning of the season that this team was going to be special," Thompson said. "They did what they had to do and came together. I couldn't have been a better season. It was definitely a season to remember."
It was certainly a season to remember for Jordan, Chris Horstemeyer and Benjamin Jamerson, the three senior Cougars.
Thompson used substitutions within the final 30 seconds of the game so that Jordan, Horstemeyer and Jamerson, could receive a standing ovations.
After SCS established a 39-16 lead at halftime, the visiting Rams showed they weren't going away quietly as they began to chip away at the deficit in the second half.
Kemper Academy cut the margin to 52-44 by the end of the third quarter, then had the gap narrowed to 54-50 with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
"I think they like to do that to get everyone's blood pressure up," Thompson said about the Cougars giving up big leads.
However, a basket by Jesse Little, a pair of free throws by Russell Davis and a bucket by Jordan helped Starkville Christian push the difference back to 10 points at 60-50 with 2:48 left.
"We preach finish all of the time and all season long we told them to finish, finish, finish," Thompson said. "I think it was great that they came back at the end and our team had to finish the game. To end the season the way they did, I couldn't have scripted it any better."
Davis scored the first eight points of the game for the Cougars as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter.
Starkville Christian's advantage stood at 20-11 after the first quarter with Davis' 14 points.
Jordan followed Davis' lead in the second quarter by getting the first seven points of that frame as the Cougars increased their advantage to 27-13.
Along with Jordan, two other Cougars achieved double-doubles for the game as Davis scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Little contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds. Little also came up with five steals.
"It doesn't happen for many teams," Thompson said of players having double-doubles. "It was a pretty frequet occurance for those guys."
Kemper Academy won the junior varsity boys game 28-15. Josh Coggin had seven points to lead SCS.
Kemper Academy 54,
Starkville Christian 48
The Lady Cougars were within striking distance down the stretch, only trailing by two points in the last minute of play.
Charity Morris of SCS hit a free throw in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 41-41, but Kemper Academy regained the lead and never gave it up.
After the Lady Rams had as much as a six-point lead at 47-42 with less than 2 minutes to play, the Lady Cougars closed the gap to 50-48 on a basket by Heather Koehn with 48.1 seconds remaining. That was as close as SCS got in the closing moments.
"They fought so hard," Lady Cougar assistant coach Rachel Witbeck said. "It was a heartbreaker, but it was a well-played game and we're looking forward to the years to come."
Prior to the game, SCS recognized all of its seniors, including Sydney Whitehead, Malory Horstemeyer, Rachel Bowman and Laken Buckner of the Lady Cougars.
The ceremony seemed to have fired up Whitehead as She scored seven-straight points to help give the Lady Cougars an 8-4 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Starkville Christian went on a 16-4 run from the first to the second quarter and held a 19-8 advantage following a 3-point field goal by Hannah Buckner.
Kemper Academy scored 12-straight points to wrestle the lead away from the Lady Cougars, but a pair of free throws by Morris put SCS back on top 22-20.
The Lady Rams led 27-25 at halftime.
Whitehead led the Lady Cougars with 14 points, while Jazlyn Douglas also scored in double digits with 11 points.
"She has improved so much over this year and over the three plus years she's been here," Witbeck said of Whitehead. "Everything we've said for her to do, she has took it to heart. She's had great character and has been a great leader for our team this year. We will definitely miss Sydney."
In junior varsity girls action, Starkville Christian won a 28-25 decision. Mia Wells paced the Lady Cougars with 18 points, while Heather Koehn added 10 points.
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