Shots inside the Beehive were not falling as frequently as the rain was outside for the Starkville Yellowjackets Friday night.
Battling a tough Yazoo City team, the Jackets were not able to overcome the slow pace of the Indians and following a last minute shot the Jackets fell 36-34.
“When you play against a team that slows the pace down like that, a five-point lead is like a 10-point lead," SHS boys coach Greg Carter said. "A two-point lead is like a six-point lead.
"You just press so hard to make shots and we just didn’t make them all game. We made enough to get back in it and tie it up, but then we just didn’t execute on that last play.”
Yazoo City took control of the game from the first buzzer. Playing a strong zone defense, the Indians held the Jackets to less than ten to hold an 11-6 lead after one.
“The zone caused us some problems,” Carter said. “It caused us to be a lot more patient and it takes away your easy opportunities inside. Their length really didn’t bother us, but the zone kept us outside the whole game.”
During the second period SHS managed to even things up slightly. With both teams posting eight points, the Indians possessed a 19-14 lead at the half.
Carter must have given his boys quite the pep talk during the halftime break, because upon reentry, the Jackets began to chip away ever so slightly at the Indian lead.
Outscoring their opponent by two, SHS cut Yazoo City’s lead to three as the teams entered the final period of competition with the Indians leading 28-25.
Once again, the Jackets outscored Yazoo City during the fourth period, but it was simply not enough.
With 10 seconds remaining, the teams stood tied at 34 and overtime seemed eminent, but Yazoo City’s Clarence Johnson had other plans as he hit a jumper from the free-throw line to give the Indians a two-point advantage.
SHS did get the ball back for one final possession, but following a turnover, Yazoo City ran out the clock to knock off their district opponent.
Leading the way for SHS was Fontavious Smith with 13, while Derrick Little was the leading Indian with 16.
Next up for the Jackets is another district battle as the team travels to Philadelphia to face Neshoba Central on Tuesday.
Yazoo City 55
Entering the Beehive Friday evening, Kristie Williams knew her team was in for a battle.
Having faced the Lady Indians earlier in the season, Williams and her team spent their time preparing for the adjustments they were certain Yazoo City would make.
“We were able to get them at their house a couple of weeks ago,” Williams said. “When you play a team twice, especially in your district, everybody readjusts. We knew that Yazoo City was going to come in with an adjustment.”
In the end, the determination paid off as the Lady Jackets dealt with Yazoo City’s adjustments and pulled off the victory.
“It was a test and it was a good test because these district games are the ones that you want to win,” Williams said. “They are the ones that lead down the road to the playoffs. It was hard fought, but I thought we grinded out and that was we need to do.”
Action in the first period was as evenly split as possible. As the buzzer sounded the end of the period, the score stood 15 all.
The second 8 minutes of play saw SHS begin to extend its lead. Outscoring their opponent by six, the Lady Jackets carried a 31-25 lead into the halftime break.
Again SHS demonstrated their offensive fight as they continued to lead during the third period. Holding Yazoo City to just 12 points, the Lady Jackets posted 17 of their own to hold a 48-37 lead as the game entered the final period.
As action began to wind down, it was clear that SHS was going to escape the Lady Indians for the second time this season.
Leading the way for SHS was Blair Schaefer with 36 points followed by Imane Montgomery with 21 points.
“We’ve said it all year long, we have a three-headed monster and two parts of that monster showed up (Friday night) and carried us through," Williams said.
With the win, SHS moves to 10-6 overall and 3-1 in its division. Next up, the Lady Jackets will play in a tournament hosted by Ackerman today. The scheduled tip off with Forest is set for 2 p.m.