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By DANNY P. SMITH
It's still early in the basketball season and Starkville Christian boys coach Mark Horstmeyer knows it will take some time to work out all of the kinks.
For one half Monday night against Kemper Academy, the Cougars showed they had what it took to compete with a bigger school of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
Starkville Christian only trailed the Rams 27-19 at half, but struggled in the second half to drop a 61-39 decision.
Hunter Hall hit the first shot of the game for Kemper Academy and it was a sign of things to come.
"He is a good player and we couldn't match up with him," Horstmeyer said. "We couldn't defend him. We tried man-to-man, a 2-3 and 1-3-1, but he had his way with us."
After the Rams took a 10-4 lead in the first quarter, baskets by Jesse Little and Austin Fox then two free throws by Fox helped the Cougars tie the game 10-10 with 1:33 remaining in the first quarter.
Kemper Academy scored the final two baskets of the first quarter to take a 14-10 advantage.
The Rams got the first five points of the second quarter to increase the margin to 19-10 and went on to lead 27-19 at halftime. Kemper Academy put up 20 more points in the third quarter, while holding Starkville Christian to four.
"Our shooting percentage was down, but they are tough," Horstmeyer said.
Chris Horstmeyer, the son of coach, led the Cougars with 11 points, while Jesse Little and Paul Michael Calhoun were next in the scoring column with six points each.
It was the second game of the season for SCS, but the first for Calhoun who has been away from the team fulfilling tennis obligations.
"The chemistry wasn't there so much," coach Horstmeyer said. "Paul Michael hasn't been at practice and we've had three months of practice."
The junior varsity Cougars recorded a 50-33 victory over Kemper Academy behind the double-digit scoring efforts of Little, Nick Wylie and Josh Coggins. Wylie and Coggins had 12 points each, while Little added 11 points.
Kemper Academy 41,
Starkville Christian 13
The visiting Lady Rams took control of the game early in getting the easy victory.
Kemper Academy led 8-2 after the first quarter and 24-4 at halftime.
Sydney Whitehead and Hannah Buckner had five points each for the Lady Cougars.
Starkville Christian won the junior varsity game 29-21 and coach Mary Kathryn Govero said the young players continue to learn how to compete.
Six of the varsity players are freshmen with one sophomore and one junior.
"They have more confidence playing against people more their own age," Govero said. "I just told them to keep their head up and keep working to get to the level of the teams that we're playing in the varsity games."
Charity Morris had eight points and Jazlyn Douglas chipped in eight points for the junior varsity Lady Cougars.
The Starkville Christian teams will travel to play the Jackson Victors today.