It wasn't the way Mark Alexander wanted to send his seniors out, but there was no lack of effort on his team's part.
Starkville Academy (15-14) fell to Jackson Academy 62-45 on senior night inside the SA Gymnasium.
Seniors Carnail Minor, Brandon Sharp and Matthew Christiansen played their last regular season game on Vols' home court.
"I thought it was a good effort for them," Alexander said. Those three guys have meant a lot to us. We wouldn't be where we are today without the contributions and effort of those three guys. I wish we could have sent them out on a little better note, but JA was just too good."
Starkville Academy only found itself down 30-22 at halftime. Sharp made two free throws for the Vols to open the half to pull them within six points.
The Raiders answered with an 8-0 run to stretch their lead out to 38-22 midway through the third quarter.
The Vols only made one field goal in the third period. Raheim Robinson knocked down a jumper to end JA's 8-0 run.
The Raiders finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 45-26 lead into the final quarter.
"Teams know that we are a methodical type team and like to slow the tempo down," Alexander said. "I think (they) came out and did that to try to make the game a little bit faster. They are a lot deeper than us and have a lot more size. Eventually it's going to wear on you and I think that's what happened to us in the third quarter. It just got away from us."
The Vols made an effort in the fourth quarter for a comeback. They came within 12 at 57-45, but the Raiders scored the final five points to ice the game.
Minor fouled out at the 2:22 mark in his final home game.
"I hate that Carnail fouled out," Alexander said.
SA's only lead of the game came when Minor scored in the opening minutes of the game to make it 2-0. He converted a free throw as he was fouled in the act of shooting to make it 3-0 Vols in the early going.
The Raiders scored the next eight points to take the lead for good.
"I told the guys, 'I don't think that was anything about what we didn't do," Alexander said. "It was more about what they did. They're just a good team. We played them earlier year. I knew they had improved. It's just a tough matchup. They've got big guys inside, they've got guys that can shoot and they run their stuff probably better than anybody in our league. Our kids tried hard, they kept competing, but it's tough to beat that team. They are well-coached."
Carter Holmes led the Raiders with 14 points. Matthew McMullan added 11.
Minor led SA with 16 points. Brandon Lane chipped in 10.
SA will be back in action either Tuesday or Wednesday in the Class AAA, Division II Tournament at Hillcrest Christian. SA earned the No. 2 seed from the South and will play the No. 3 seed from the North in Heritage Academy.
The Volunteers have beaten the Patriots twice already this season.
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