Both Starkville High School teams pulled off victories over Columbus in Tuesday night action at the Beehive.
The Yellowjackets pulled off a thrilling 48-46 victory over the Falcons, while the Lady Yellowjackets won their contest 79-65.
“We needed this win,” SHS coach Greg Carter said. “We want to win every time we step on the court, especially against Columbus, but every time as well. We were 0-2 before this and we needed something positive before our next game. We have a couple weeks off before the next game and that would have been a long couple of weeks of practice if we were 0-3.”
From the very beginning, it was a tight contest for the Jackets as the first period scores were only separated by one. Led by Richard Evans with 11, Starkville held the slight advantage of a 17-16 lead after one.
“(The) guards played really well,” Carter said. “Evans and (Zeb) Rice shot it well. Evans handled the ball well. He was that steady handler for us. He didn’t turn it over much. That was key for us and got us off to a really good start.”
The second period of play was even tighter. Play went back and forth the entire quarter with each team closing the half with 29 points.
Evans again led the Yellowjackets at the half with 13 points, while Brandon Porter was the leading Falcon scorer with 11.
The offensive battle continued into the third period which when all action had ceased turned out to be the most defensively slanted period. At the end of three, the pair was separated by five points with the Yellowjackets leading 41-36.
The final period of play came right down to the wire with Starkville leading by two. Columbus’ C.J. Scott attempted a 3-point shot with 3.3 seconds to go and was unsuccessful giving the Yellowjackets the 48-46 victory.
Evans led the scoring for Starkville with 19 points, followed by Rice who picked up 12. The Falcons garnered their largest points from Remadus Beasley who scored 14.
The Lady Yellowjackets managed to mount a huge comeback following a 14-point deficit after one period of play to defeat the Lady Falcons 79-65.
“It is always an intense rivalry when we play Columbus and we knew it was going to be a close game,” Lady Yellowjacket coach Kristie Williams said. “In the beginning, we just did not go out firing, but one we settled down and started playing our game, everything started to flow the way we thought it would.”
Columbus jumped out offensively during the first thanks to the efforts of Laterrica Jefferson, who had seven points, while Blair Schaefer picked up two free throws to give Starkville its only points of the period.
Even though Starkville trailed after the first, its excellent defense and key missed shots by Columbus allowed the Lady Jackets to stay in the game, mount their comeback and pull off an eventual victory.
“In the first quarter, we were missing easy shots around the rim,” Williams said. “We were giving up rebounds and offensive boards to them. Then we picked up our intensity on defense and that was the turning point for us. We thrive on putting full-court pressure to get easy offensive baskets.”
Scoring picked up for both teams in the second quarter, but SHS came out ahead out-scoring its guests 28-11 to take a 30-27 lead into halftime.
The Lady Jackets continued the scoring attack into the second half, as they tacked on another 49 points to claim victory over the Lady Falcons.
Imane Montgomery led Starkville in the scoring column with 26 points, followed closely by Schaefer who picked up 25 points and 13 assists. Columbus was led by Jefferson’s 17 points.
“Montgomery stepped up and really carried the load for us,” Williams said. “She is a trooper and goes hard every game. She doesn’t know how to quit. (It's the) same with Schaefer. They both have that intensity of wanting to play hard no matter what the challenge or who the opponent is. They both showed that (Tuesday night).”
The Lady Jackets have played a tough schedule thus far and as Williams looks ahead it does not get any easier.
“Our schedule is tough,” Williams said. “Our first three games were tough, but you want these games early on. They are the ones that help you to grow and get ready for district games later on.”
Starkville will be off until a showdown at Louisville on Nov. 27.