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By DANNY P. SMITH
Jacqueline Fair picked a good time to hit the only 3-point field goal of the game for the Starkville Lady Yellowjackets.
Fair's 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining gave the Lady Jackets a 36-35 victory against the Grenada Lady Chargers Friday night.
A shot attempt from long range may not have been exactly what Starkville girls coach Kristie Williams was looking for in that situation, but she wasn't about to complain about the results.
"I didn't draw it up, but I'll take it any day of the week," Williams said. "It was a huge shot and she's a senior. To take a shot like that can only boost her confidence. Now she knows she can step up and hit a big shot like that."
Overall, it was a tough night from the outside for Fair, but she came through when it mattered most for the Lady Jackets.
"I came out shooting, but my 3's weren't falling," Fair said. "I kept shooting and knew they were going to fall. I'm glad we won the game."
Starkville, which improved to 5-3 overall, struggled to get points early as it fell behind Grenada 11-6 with 7:40 left in the second quarter.
The Lady Jackets were able to fight back and took a 16-15 advantage at halftime on a score by Imane Montgomery at the 1:12 mark of the second quarter.
A basket by Janay Townsel increased the margin to 18-15 for SHS, but the Lady Chargers came back to regain the lead at 19-18 with 6:19 remaining in the third quarter.
The lead changed hands seven times for the rest of the game until Fair's game-winning shot for the Lady Jackets.
"We came out sluggish and I don't know what was our mind-frame," Williams said. "Coming off that disappointing loss to Neshoba on Tuesday, I thought we would have come out fighting a little bit harder, but we couldn't find our rhythm the entire game.
"To come out with this win tonight, I guess we decided that we didn't want to give up and they fought to the very end. It was an ugly win, but we fought hard. We could have gotten down on ourselves, but we continued to fight and that's a sign of maturity with this team."
Like her coach, Fair was disappointed that Starkville had not played better during the course of the game and knew it would come down to whichever team made a play at the end.
"It was a very close game," Fair said. "This was a big win because even though we won at Grenada, we thought we would come out and win. We set our standards up too high. We played around with them instead of playing our game."
Janay Townsel was the only scorer in double digits for the Lady Jackets with 12 points, while cousin Shameka Townsel was next in the scoring column with eight points.
Starkville plays Northeast Jones at the Meridian Wildcat Classic today. Tipoff for the girls action is set for 3 p.m.
The Jackets were hot from the outside with 13 3-point field goals and easily picked up win against the Chargers.
"We came out making shot after shot," SHS boys coach Greg Carter said. "We defended well early on and rebounded. Everything kind of fell in together."
Carter knows when hit team is shooting well and combined with a strong inside game, it can be tough to stop. He just doesn't want the Jackets to stop themselves.
"We've just got to put together long stretches where we play that way and we're getting better at it." Carter said.
In taking a 30-12 lead after the first quarter, Steve Brand hit three 3-point field goals, while Jacolby Mobley hit a pair from long range for Starkville.
Tori Rice and Mobley had 18 points each by halftime as the Jackets stretched the margin to 51-23.
Carter said Rice's play when Mississippi State signee Gavin Ware had to go out of the game with three fouls was good to see.
"Tori stepped up and filled in at the center spot with not just the rebounding but the scoring too," Carter said. "They kept leaving him one-on-one in there and he kept scoring on the guy. He's getting to the free-throw line and making his free throws."
Rice had 20 points for SHS, while Mobley led the squad in scoring with 22 points. Brand, who joined Mobley with four 3-pointers, and Ware added 14 points each.
The Jackets, who improved to 9-0, have a quick turnaround by playing Jackson Lanier at 4:30 p.m. today in the Meridian Wildcat Classic. Following that, Starkville plays at Canton in a division game Tuesday night before seeing two tough games at the Joe Horne Christmas Classic next weekend.
"We've got a tough stretch of games coming up so we need to be consistent and play well in this next stretch," Carter said.