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SMITH COLUMN: The Lady Vols have the look of solid team

January 22, 2012

The Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers have all of the pieces to make a successful run in the postseason.

All of those pieces were on display Friday night as the Lady Vols got what could be considered their biggest win of the season, an impressive 40-25 decision over the traditionally-strong Pillow Academy Lady Mustangs.

It has certainly been interesting to follow the SA girls squad this season under the leadership of veteran coach Glenn Schmidt.

The Lady Vols sport a solid inside game with Sallie Kate Richardson. She probably didn't have her best game against Pillow, but still managed to record a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Richardson is only a sophomore, which is amazing to consider, so she still has two good years to grow and develop in the SA system.

Another underclassman that has come on strong on the court this season for the Lady Vols is junior Anna Lea Little.

With her size, Little can be a very tough matchup when she is shooting well from the perimeter.

The transfer from Starkville Christian School a couple of years ago has adapted her game well to the private school level. Little can only get better if she continues to follow the teaching of Schmidt.

SA has a senior point guard in Anna Prestridge that remains poised under pressure.

Schmidt often speaks to how valuable Prestridge is to the Lady Vols and she was instrumental in defeating the Lady Mustangs.

Prestridge played the entire 32 minutes against Pillow and ran her usual quality floor game along with contributing 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds. She was the second-leading rebounder behind Richardson.

When Prestridge does the things at point guard to be successful, Starkville Academy can be very difficult team to beat.

The other senior Lady Vols are Brittany Jacks, Julianne Jackson, April Burney and Lauren Atwell. They come off the bench to provide good minutes when one of the starters need a breather.

Even though Starkville Academy has quite a number of seniors, there are other underclassmen in sophomore Nora Kathryn Carroll and junior Tiffany Huddleston who take care of their business whether they come off the bench or start the game.

There's no question that the key to Friday's success for the Lady Vols against the Lady Mustangs was defense.

SA held Pillow to 22 percent shooting (9-of-41) from the field, including no shots made from 3-point range (0-for-6). The Lady Vols had a 39-18 rebounding edge against the Lady Mustangs.

Starkville Academy had some very difficult competition in back-to-back days with Pillow Academy at home and Oak Hill Academy on the road Saturday.

Those types of matchups on consecutive days will be similar to what SA will face during the postseason in about another month.

The Lady Vols will certainly be a battle-tested bunch.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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