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MADISON â€“ Starkville High School will be well-represented in Friday's Class 6A, Region 3 Tournament championship games as both the boys and girls won first round games on Tuesday.
The Lady Jackets defeated the Columbus Lady Falcons 58-55 in the first game, while the Jackets followed that up with a 66-58 decision over the Northwest Rankin Cougars.
Starkville's girls improved their record to 18-5, but it didn't come without some drama.
After taking an early 22-4 lead in the game, the Lady Jackets saw the Lady Falcons make a run and cut the margin to 39-35 at the end of the third quarter. SHS clung to a 50-49 advantage with 2:48 remaining in the game, then finished strong.
With the game being against Columbus, coach Kristie Williams knew it was going to take something a little extra for the Lady Jackets to come out with the victory.
"We knew it was going to be a battle in playing a team for the third time," Williams said. "We knew it was going to be tough and we had to keep playing with effort. When we got up 22-4, we didn't want to get complacent. I was pleased with the way we kept fighting and didn't give up. We knew it was win or go home."
SHS senior point guard Blair Schaefer hit 24-of-25 shots from the free-throw line and scored 30 points, while Imane Montgomery added 15 points.
The Lady Jackets play for the title at 6 p.m. Friday.
Northwest Rankin 58
MADISON â€“ The Jackets trailed 19-17 after the first quarter, but came back to seize the win.
Starkville was able to gain a 34-31 advantage by halftime and stretched the margin to 50-44 after three quarters.
Dontavius Self and Zeb Rice scored 17 points each to lead the Jackets. Fontavious Smith also scored in double figures with 10 points.
The SHS boys will play for the championship following the girls at 7:30 p.m.
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