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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Lady Yellowjackets had already beaten the West Point Lady Green Wave once this season in the opener.
SHS girls coach Kristie Williams knew it wouldn't be easy to do it again at the Beehive Friday night.
The Lady Jackets stretched a 10-8 lead after the first quarter to 31-22 at halftime and maintained a solid defensive effort in the second half to secure a 59-45 victory over their rivals from Clay County.
"Something we're constantly working on is our defensive effort for the 32 minutes that we're out there," Williams said. "On the defensive side, we need to make sure they earn every point, there are no easy baskets and nothing where they are able to do what they want to."
Starkville, which improved to 4-2, were successful in getting second and third chances at baskets with its offensive rebounding during the game.
It was something that West Point coach Woody Murray felt was the difference in the game.
"We got beat on the offensive glass," Murray said. "Other than that I felt we had a pretty good effort."
There was a time in the second half where the Lady Jackets weren't as aggressive on the boards.
Williams called a timeout to make sure her squad understood the plan.
"You have to light the fire underneath them sometimes," Williams said. "After I called a timeout, we talked about it and they understood that rebounding is the key to any game and tonight was a really good effort."
Brittany Brown led SHS with 20 points, while Janay Townsel added 11 points and Kelsye Reed chipped in 10 points.
Williams was glad to see the production from Townsel and Reed.
"Brittany is our go-to player and everybody knows that, but to have some other players step up and make some key baskets, it's going to open up doors down the stretch," Williams said. "If you zone in on Brittany Brown, there's somebody else that can step up and make a basket."
West Point 45
The No. 1 Starkville Yellowjackets usually don't panic when they are involved in a tight game early.
At any time the Jackets know they have the tools to make a run and it happened Friday night against the West Point Green Wave.
After taking about 5 minutes to click into gear, Starkville defeated West Point easily.
The Jackets, who remain perfect at 7-0, turned an 11-10 lead into 26-10 at the end of the first quarter. The 15-0 run was started by a 3-point field goal by Steve Brand and he scored all 10 of his points in the first quarter.
"It really motivated us," Brand said of the run.
The Green Wave had the game tied at 7-7 with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter, then a pair of free throws by Tori Rice and a jumper by Mississippi State signee Gavin Ware put Starkville up 11-7.
A 3-point field goal by West Point's Daryl Thomas cut the margin to 11-10 before the Jackets went on their 15-0 run. Starkville's lead grew to 43-23 by halftime and 65-37 after the third quarter.
Even though the Jackets made it look easy from midway through the first quarter on, coach Greg Carter said the Green Wave aren't a bad team.
"They have some good pieces," Carter said. "I thought they played well early on and we missed some shots early in the game. They were going to the offensive boards hard and got some offensive rebounds.
"We got out on the break and got some easy baskets. We got a whole bunch of them in a short amount of time. It was a quick spurt and that kind of opened the game up a little bit."
Once Starkville got on a roll West Point coach Brad Cox said it was difficult for his team to get the game back under control.
"The wheels came off," Cox said.
Tori Rice paced the Jacket attack with 17 points, while Ware contributed 15 points and Jacolby Mobley added 11 points to go along with Brand's 10.
Brand said it's no surprise to see three or four SHS players score in double figures on any given night.
"We've been playing together since middle school so that helps us," Brand said.