Having won five of their last six games, it seems things are starting to click for the Starkville Academy Volunteers.
On Saturday, the team demonstrated its chemistry as the Volunteers defeated the Raiders of Oak Hill Academy 56-37.
“It feels good to get the win,” SA senior Brandon Sharp said. “I’m a senior so everybody kind of looks to me as a leader. It is my job to go out there and make sure we are all OK and doing what we need to do to insure the win.”
Starkville Academy coach Mark Alexander echoes his player’s thoughts on how good wining feels.
“They did much better (Saturday),” Alexander said. “We gave up 14 points in the first quarter and I wasn’t too happy about that, but things turned around in the second. We went small and pressed them full court. We felt like we could extend the lead that way and we did. It was good to see things clicking.”
The teams appeared evenly matched during the first 8 minutes of play. As the clock ticked down with Raiders and Volunteers separated by only one point with Starkville Academy leading 15-14.
Alexander did go to a small lineup during the second period allowing the Vols to create some mismatches and provided them the opportunity to extend their lead to 35-20 heading into halftime.
“We knew coming in that we could create matchup problems for people with our speed and quickness and that was our game plan coming in,” Alexander said. “We were just looking for whoever had the mismatch and that is what we went with.”
Returning to the court following the break, the Volunteers appeared determined to continue their quest for victory. Scoring 14 of its own during the period, Starkville Academy's defense held Oak Hill to 10 points as they carried a 49-30 lead into the final moments of competition.
The fourth period provided the lowest scoring of the entire game as both teams remained in the single digits. The Raiders scored four, while Starkville Academy posted another seven to clinch the victory and move to 10-8 overall.
Seeing his team win meant a great deal to Alexander, but watching them score means even more as the team prepares to move forward in the season.
“I told the guys that it was good to see us score some points,” Alexander said. “We have struggled to score lately, so scoring like this gives us some confidence heading forward.”
Carnail Minor was the leading Volunteer with 21 points and he also pulled down eight rebounds. Just behind Minor was Sharp who posted 12 points, while providing seven assists.
Oak Hill was led by a pair of Raiders as Riley Pierce and Chance Wilson both scored nine, followed closely by Curt Huffman with seven.
Starkville Academy 57,
Oak Hill 25
With a 26-0 record, Starkville Academy has gotten used to the sweet taste of victory.
On Saturday, the Lady Volunteers got to enjoy the fruits of their labors one more time as they knocked off the the Lady Raiders.
“We intended for this to be a team win (Saturday),” Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said. “This was serious business to us. We respect them as a team and I think that is why we came so hard at the beginning.”
As usual, Starkville Academy jumped out to a fast start dominating on both sides of the ball. With 3:26 remaining in the first quarter, the Lady Vols held an 8-3 lead, and those three points would be the only ones Oak Hill would produce that period.
While holding the Lady Raiders scoreless, Starkville Academy put up 14 additional points before closing the period with a 22-3 lead.
Things did not change much during the second period. Again the Lady Vols held Oak Hill to single-digit scoring, while posting 18 of their own to lead 40-7 heading into the locker rooms for a halftime break.
With the Lady Vols holding a convincing lead, the referees enacted the mercy rule meaning the remainder of the game would be played with a continuously running clock. As the time ticked away, Starkville Academy extended its lead by 30 points to enter the final period ahead 49-19.
The clock continued to run during the fourth making for a short period of action. Oak Hill posted six points, while Starkville Academy tacked on an additional eight to secure their 26th straight victory of the season.
“We just did what it took (Saturday),” Schmidt said. “We followed them up and down the court. We made open shots. We played a complete game and I am so pleased with the effort we gave.”
Maggie Proffitt led the Lady Vols with 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Tiffany Huddleston and Anna Leigh Little rounded out the top three scorers. Huddleston posted 13 points, five assists and brought down three rebounds, while Little produced 11 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Shay Atkins led the way for the Lady Raiders with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Starkville Academy returns to action Tuesday when East Rankin comes to town.