The Starkville Yellowjackets could not seem to catch a break in their home opener against Meridian.
Very quickly into the game, the Wildcats took the reins and as the clock wound down, they walked away with a 60-37 victory over the Yellowjackets.
“They out-played us,” SHS coach Greg Carter said. “They are bigger and with their pressure, it hurt us. We handled the ball well and made the next pass. We just couldn’t finish.”
After winning the tip, Meridian took the ball down and scored right away. On the very next play, Starkville suffered a turnover which gave the Wildcats another scoring opportunity.
Dontavious Self started the Yellowjacket scoring to make it a 5-2 ballgame. Joining Self in first period scoring was Avonte Amos whose 3-pointer from the corner pulled Starkville to within four. Zeb Rice closed the period with a lay up to end action at 15-13 Wildcats.
Starting the second period both teams were scoreless for the first 4 minutes. Then Meridian turned on the offense, while their strong press blanketed Starkville to allow the Wildcats to push their lead to 27-13.
Rice then stepped up for the Yellowjackets with 50 seconds to go to end the scoring drought with a huge 3. Jontavious Baker answered with a Yellowjacket lay up to close the half 28-18.
“We went through a spell in the second period where it was a two to four point game, then we went about 3 minutes without scoring," Carter said. "We took a lot of good shots, (but) we just couldn’t make them. We just couldn’t buy a basket.”
Prior to halftime, no Starkville player had more than six points. Carter attributed that fact to several of his players still getting adjusted to increased roles.
“None of these guys have really played in varsity,” Carter said. “Only one of them has really gotten any minutes before this year, so every game is a new experience for them. They just have to learn from these games and move on.” Following the break, not much changed for Starkville, which never led in the contest.
The third period was much like the second in that it was sluggish scoring wise. During those 8 minutes, the Yellowjackets were only able to muster five points combined. Heading into the final period of play, the score stood 45-23.
Meridian continued the scoring right through the end of play picking up an additional 15 points, while Starkville picked up 14 to close the game 60-37.
Rice led the Yellowjacket scorers with his 10 points, followed by Baker with six and Amos with five.
The leading scorers for the Wildcats were Torlof Thomas with 15 and Jaricus Hubburd with 13.
“Our guys kept playing through the end,” Carter said. “I am proud of them for their effort. They kept fighting and we will just have to learn from this and move on.” The Yellowjackets get the chance to redeem themselves as they prepare to face Columbus next Tuesday night.