The Starkville Academy Volunteers lost a close one Thursday night, falling to Pillow Academy 44-42.
“It’s tough to lose another one like that,” Starkville Academy coach Mark Alexander said. “That’s two in a row at home that we have come up short in. I didn’t feel like we came out ready to play. We beat Pillow the first time and I knew they were going to come in and play hard. I just don’t think we responded well (Thursday night).”
In what turned out to be a closely fought battle, the Volunteers started and ended scoring in the first period. Matthew Christiansen began the period with a layup, while Bradley Weseli closed action with a 3-point buzzer shot to give Starkville Academy an 8-7 lead after one.
As the second period started, Weseli hit his second three of the night. Play then went back and forth between the teams leading up to Carnail Minor ending the period with a putback.
Heading into the locker rooms, roles reversed as the Mustangs held the lead 19-16.
Following his two 3-pointers, Weseli led the Volunteers first half efforts with six points. Minor was right on his teammates heels picking up four.
Brandon Sharp entered the equation for Starkville Academy as he hit a mid-range jumper to open the second half. Again the two teams were equally matched and as the buzzer sounded, Pillow carried a 35-30 lead into the final period.
The Mustangs dominated the first 2 minutes of the fourth period, holding the Volunteers scoreless until Minor hit a layup at the 6-minute mark. Caleb Merchant then stepped up for Starkville Academy hitting two free throws with 4 minutes left to give the Volunteers their first lead since the middle of the second period.
Pillow quickly regained the lead, but the Volunteers were not done. With 15 seconds remaining Weseli hit his fourth three of the night to close Pillow’s lead 43-42. Pillow then scored one from the charity stripe. Starkville Academy took one last shot at the buzzer but came up short.
Weseli was the leading Volunteer with 14 points, followed by Minor with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Mustangs were led by Jackson Pannell with 20 points and Peyton O’Dell who scored 19 points.