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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Lady Yellowjackets couldn't have asked for a better start in Friday's Class 6A, Region 1 opener against the Columbus Lady Falcons.
After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, the Lady Jackets had all of the momentum for the first 3 minutes of the game.
However, a rash of turnovers and missed shots hampered Starkville and Columbus took advantage.
The Lady Falcons wrestled the lead away from the Lady Jackets by the end of the first quarter 11-9, increased the margin to 24-17 by halftime and dominated the second half to pull away for a 61-41 victory.
"I'm starting to sound redundant after we continue to play the way we are, but it's just lack of hustle and total commitment," Starkville coach Kristie Williams said of the loss. "We talk big that we're ready to play, but until they learn to walk the walk and start executing, we're going to have long nights like (Friday).
"We can't take a win against Louisville, then come home and give up a big win to your district rival. It's just a matter of wanting to win."
After Maggie Proffitt of Columbus hit a three-point field goal to cut Starkville's lead to 7-3, the points kept on coming for the Lady Falcons.
Brittany Brown hit a basket for the Lady Jackets to put them up 9-3 at the 3:51 mark of the first quarter, then Columbus went on an 8-0 run to take a 13-9 advantage with 7:20 remaining in the second quarter.
Kiandria Patterson had nine points in the first half as the Lady Falcons established the 24-17 lead.
Starkville had trouble containing the Columbus duo of Proffitt and Patterson, who had 21 points each. The Lady Jackets were out-scored 37-24 in the second half.
Brittany Brown had 15 points for SHS, but was the only player in double digits.
The Lady Jackets were without Courtney Moore, who sat out the game with personal issues.
Williams hopes to get Moore back in the near future, but until then, she said someone else has to step up.
"That was a big part of the game plan for us," Williams said. "Courtney averages 15 points per game and almost nine rebounds."
Even though she didn't provide much scoring, Williams singled-out the play of Rebecca Myles for her 10-rebound effort.
"If I had to chose a player of the game for us, it would be Rebecca because she laid it out there," Williams said. "With her getting those rebounds, that's what you want for her to do. You want to continue fighting knowing that things are not going our way, but she fought to the very end. She gave her best and is one of our senior leaders and I value her effort."
The Lady Jackets, who fell to 1-5 overall, continue their homestand against Aberdeen Tuesday.