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By DANNY P. SMITH
Anna Lea Little had four three-point field goals and scored 23 points for the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers Tuesday night.
The biggest of those points for Little came at the end of the game on a pair of free throws.
Those free throws ended an 8-0 run by Heritage Academy as Starkville Academy held on for a 44-35 victory.
Little, who completed a double-double with 12 rebounds, continues to make the adjustment to Mississippi Association of Independent School basketball with the Lady Vols after having transferred from Starkville Christian last season.
"To change her whole life strategy and plan, she has adjusted to the school very well and has been very well received," Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt said. "She does a very good job in the school. The teachers and faculty here like her.
"The only other adjustment she has to make is realize she's not just playing pickup basketball now. The better she begins to play, then the harder it will be for her to play. We tease her and say this isn't Sunday afternoon and this isn't ESPN where you can do whatever you want."
After a basket by Sallie Kate Richardson gave the Lady Vols a 42-27 lead with 3:03 remaining in the game, Christibeth Nelson hit a pair of three-pointers and scored another basket as the Lady Patriots cut the margin to 42-35.
Little's free throws were the final points of the game.
Schmidt said SA had a difficult time with the Heritage Academy pressure defense, especially at the end of the game when her squad got tired.
"We knew Heritage was good because they beat us the second game of the year and they play really hard," Schmidt said. "We got tired a little bit, but their pressure was very good."
The Lady Vols came out hot in the first quarter by scoring the first seven points of the game before the Lady Patriots could get their first basket on a putback by Bailey Rader. Starkville Academy closed the quarter with nine more points to take a 16-2 lead.
Heritage hit a pair of three-point field goals to open the second quarter to close the gap to 16-8, but Little got the points back with back-to-back three's of her own. The Lady Vols held a 26-11 advantage at halftime.
"The thing that was most impressive about our group was we played great defense the first half," Schmidt said. "We had to because we knew they could score and we think they are a very good team. We're just having a little bit of trouble with pressure late in the game.
Richardson finished with 13 points and six rebounds for Starkville Academy, which improved to 8-6 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Nora Kathryn Carroll also grabbed six boards. Anna Prestridge had five steals.
"Anna Prestridge is a stability factor for us and we have the two freshman in Sallie Kate and Nora," Schmidt said.
For Heritage, Nelson scored 17 points with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
"She got 26 on us at Heritage in October, but we knew we couldn't let her loose," Schmidt said.
The Lady Vols travel Washington Thursday and return home to play Pillow Academy on Saturday.