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By DANNY P. SMITH
Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt knew Magnolia Heights had a reputation of playing good zone defense.
That was a cause for concern heading into Friday afternoon's home matchup with the Lady Chiefs.
Once the Lady Volunteers started making shots, Schmidt's worries began to go away.
Nora Kathryn Carroll hit a pair of three-point field goals in the first quarter as Starkville Academy took a 16-6 lead and it went on to win a 49-26 decision against Magnolia Heights.
"The key was we got them out of their zone," Schmidt said. "I was personally a little bit afraid of their zone because we have not played against many of them. I thought the girls did an excellent job of getting to that point."
Carroll and Sallie Kate Richardson, both 9th graders, scored 17 of the 25 first-half points for the Lady Vols.
"Some games we score outside and some games we score inside," Schmidt said. "We're having to learn to take what (opponents) give us. Sometimes we take quick shots we don't need to take, then I think we pass up shots and a lot of that is youth. I'm more worried about defense and rebounding.
"We played consistently on offense. We moved and cut through screens. Offensively, we got them out of their zone and that's a good thing."
Starkville Academy shot 40 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Lady Chiefs by 11 (34-23) and had 16 offensive rebounds. Richardson had 11 rebounds.
Carroll's first three-pointer with 3:56 left in the first quarter put the Lady Vols up 7-4.
The basket by Carroll began an 11-0 run that helped SA establish a 16-4 advantage.
The Lady Vols out-scored Magnolia Heights 9-7 in the second quarter to stretch the margin to 25-13 by halftime.
Starkville Academy held a 38-22 lead after the third quarter as Anna Prestridge scored eight of her 14 points.
"I thought Anna Prestridge had a good game," Schmidt said. "I think she saw some things they were doing in the third quarter defensively and she was able to exploit it. That's what we've been working with her on and she's got the green light to do what she wants. She's beginning to get confidence to penetrate and see what she can get."
Carroll led the Lady Vols with 16 points.
Starkville Academy improved to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in North Class-AAA conference and travels to Clarksdale-Lee today.
"It's great to get a win and we've got one more before we take a few days off for Christmas," Schmidt said. "It was a good team win, everyone got in and got a lot of minutes and did a good job for us."
Magnolia Heights 45
Starkville Academy 31
The visiting Chiefs broke open a close game by out-scoring the Volunteers 25-16 in the second half.
"I'm at a loss right now," Starkville Academy coach Chris Lyle said. "The kids totally quit on me tonight. As a coach, it's frustrating to see that."
After Magnolia Heights took a 14-5 lead at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, the Vols closed the gap to 14-13 on a basket by Jordan Bright and a pair of three-point field goals by Jon Michael Robinson.
The Chiefs scored the next seven points to move out to a 20-15 lead at halftime.
Magnolia Heights held SA to just four points in the third quarter.
Austin Kinard was the only player for the Vols to score in double figures with 10 points with Robinson next with eight points.
Starkville Academy's record slipped to 4-9 overall and also plays at Clarksdale-Lee Academy today.