JACKSON – Starkville Academy's Lady Volunteers have another Class AAA, Division II State championship.
On Saturday, the Lady Vols claimed the second-straight such title as they defeated East Rankin Academy 63-15.
Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt was all smiles following the game watching her team celebrate the first of hopefully three championships.
"I've done this for a long time and the longer I do it the more I realize how much it does mean to the kids," Schmidt said. "We take things for granted as adults, but it really means something to them. I am so proud for them to see all their efforts. To see smiles and hugs and pictures flashing, I look out there and I see what it means to them."
The game started a little sluggish compared to most Starkville Academy games, as it appeared East Rankin knew the key was to throw the Lady Vols off their fast pace.
"People play us like that because we are such a threat offensively," Schmidt said. "We've had our halves and moments where we haven't played good offense, but we are a threat offensively. We have players that can play inside and out. They like to put up shots. They like to shoot."
Both teams remained scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the game, until Maggie Proffitt scored with 4:40 left in the first period to make it 2-0.
After claiming the lead, the Lady Vols would not trail the entire game. Starkville Academy took control defensively holding the Lady Patriots to a single basket the duration of the first period as it held a 20-2 advantage after one quarter.
The Lady Vols opened the second period with a 17-0 run to extend their lead to 37-2.
Starkville Academy's defense continued to dominate as it maintained the lead while holding East Rankin scoreless until just before the 1-minute mark when the Lady Patriots sunk a pair of free throws.
As the buzzer sounded ending the half, the Lady Vols held a 36-point lead with the score standing 40-4.
Getting out to an early advantage was one of SA's goals according to Proffitt, who said the team did not want a repeat of Friday night's start.
"(Friday's) game helped us, because we got off to a really slow start in the first half," Proffitt said. "We didn't want that to happen again so we just came out knowing it was going to be a really tough and competitive game. We jumped out in the first half."
Sally Kate Richardson echoed her teammate's thoughts on the team's focus during the championship game.
"We knew that it was a championship game so we had to keep playing our game and couldn't stop," Richardson said. "We knew that they were going to try and hold the ball so that is why we got into all our presses. We like to speed the game up and keep going."
The Lady Patriots matched their first half scoring during the third period as they hit two quick buckets, but were unable to stop Starkville Academy's momentum.
Continuing on the fast-paced road, the Lady Vols entertained fans with a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 48, placing the score at 56-8 as the final period approached.
The running clock rule quickened the pace of the final period which saw East Rankin match Starkville Academy for seven points each.
Even with the slowed-down offense in the beginning, the Lady Vols cruised their way to victory and a repeat turn as Class AAA, Division II champions.
As a team, the Lady Vols shot 56 percent with Proffitt leading the way with 16 points. Right behind Proffitt were Tiffany Huddleston and Anna Lea Little with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Thanks to commanding performances throughout the entire tournament, the Lady Vols saw all five of their starters earn places on the All-Tournament team. Among the honorees were Little, Huddleston, Proffitt, Richardson and Nora Kathryn Carroll.
Next up for Starkville Academy is a trip to Jackson Academy to face the Lady Patriots of Jackson Prep in the Class AAA State Tournament.
Having faced the Lady Patriots during the regular season, Starkville Academy has an idea of what to expect, but according to Little, the team is focusing more on what they need to do not what Jackson Prep is going to do.
"We are just going to play our game and we will be fine," Little said.
Huddleston agreed with Little and added that it's a relief " to get one championship game out of the way" and is looking forward to the possibility of "winning two more."
The time and day of Starkville Academy's next game against Prep is still to be determined.