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By DANNY P. SMITH
The extra time Austin Kinard put in to work on his shooting paid off on Monday.
Kinard heated up from the outside and scored 20 points to help the Starkville Academy Volunteers to a 66-48 victory over the Oak Hill Raiders at the SA gymnasium.
"I've been just working in practice every day after school with my shooting and it helped out for me (Monday night)," Kinard said.
Calvin Young led the Vols with 21 points, but Kinard's contribution was an added bonus.
Starkville Academy coach Mark Alexander was proud of what Kinard provided and looks for it to continue.
"He played well and that's probably the best game he's had," Alexander said. "We're going to need for him to step up and play because we try to take the ball inside to Calvin and as (opponents) focus on him so much, it's going to open up that perimeter game."
The Vols were able to extend an 18-14 halftime lead to 41-29 after a successful 3-pointer by Kinard. SA led 43-36 after the third quarter.
Oak Hill coach Brian Middleton knew Young would be a tough matchup inside and it didn't help when Kinard found his shooting touch from outside.
"Kinard hurt us worse than (Young) did," Middleton said. "He hit three big 3's in the third and we let him loose. We did a good job on the big guy for the most part and when the shooter opened it up, it just compounded on us. We had a tough time doing both."
Alexander thought the Vols were lacking in the first half with only 18 points and holding only a four-point lead.
After challenging his players at halftime, Alexander was happy to see them respond with a better effort in the final 16 minutes.
"I was disappointed in the first half because we didn't play with a lot of effort," Alexander said. "Our defense was really bad. I challenged them at halftime that you've got to play so the second half we came out, really defended and looked like a whole different team - the team we are supposed to be. We had balanced scoring and that's good with four guys in double figures."
Following Young and Kinard in scoring were Carnail Minor with 12 points and Zachary Gerhart with 10 points. Starkville Academy improved its record to 4-2.
For the Raiders (4-3), A.J. Jones led the way with 18 points, while John Wesley Williamson chipped in 12 points.
Starkville Academy 45,
Oak Hill 36
Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt knows it takes a special effort any time her team has to go against a Stan Hughey-coached Oak Hill squad.
It took more than four quarters to decide Monday's action.
The Lady Volunteers out-scored the Lady Raiders 9-0 in overtime and earned the victory.
Ironically, Starkville Academy improved its overall record to 9-0, but Schmidt said it sure didn't come easy and didn't expect it to be against Hughey.
"Stan Hughey prepares his team to beat you as well as anybody I play against," Schmidt said. "He prepares for the game. We do a lot of that, but not to the degree that he does and he's successful at it. I felt like he took us out of our game. Every now and then, we'd break into our game and we'd get into some movement, but the whole game consistently we played defense.
"It was a good team win, but Stan Hughey's team is extremely well-coached and a tough team to play. It is hard to play against them always."
Through the scoring of Anna Prestridge and Anna Lea Little, the Lady Vols secured an 18-14 lead at halftime. They extended the margin to 28-21 after the third quarter, but Oak Hill rallied all of the way back to gain a 34-33 advantage with 3:18 remaining in the game on a pair of free throws by Shay Atkins.
After a free throw by Sallie Kate Richardson tied the game 34-34, Maegen Ellis hit two from the charity stripe with 44.7 seconds left in regulation to help the Lady Raiders regain the lead 36-34.
Starkville Academy forced overtime with a basket by Richardson with 30.7 seconds remaining.
"Sallie Kate stayed with it, was aggressive and played great defense," Schmidt said.
A basket and free throw by Richardson, a bucket by April Burney and four free throws by Prestridge made up the scoring in the extra frame.
Prestridge led the Lady Vols with 14 points, while Richardson scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half.
"What's important to me, different people are making different plays," Schmidt said. "The wealth is being shared and we are taking what they give us.
"You know they are going to beat you up inside. You know every time Sallie Kate gets it or Anna Lea gets a rebound, it's going to be extremely physical. I'm not saying that's bad. That's good basketball. We're still young at what we're doing and we've just got to put it all together. We found a way to win the game."
That's exactly what Hughey thought and gave SA credit for finding a way to win.
"They just made plays," Hughey said. "They made two or three big plays when it counted and that just did us in.
"We had our chance and had the lead, but couldn't put it away. We couldn't hit a shot to put them away before overtime and they did a great job in overtime. It was a crucial turnover and a missed free throw that did us in."
Tori Ellis led Oak Hill (7-2) with 11 points and was followed in the scoring column by Maegen Ellis with nine points.