By JOEL COLEMAN
It doesn't take long for a game to change.
For a few moments Saturday at the Beehive, Starkville High girls basketball coach Kristie Williams saw her team hanging tough with undefeated Gentry.
In the blink of an eye, the Lady Rams were in full control.
Gentry broke off a 21-4 run to close the first quarter, turning an 8-7 deficit to a 28-12 lead, on the way to defeating Starkville 72-47.
"We had all the hopes in the world of coming out and playing a lot better than we have the first three games," said Williams. "I thought we were in it. Then I look up at the end of the first quarter and Gentry's up 28-12. We dug ourselves a hole and from there we were scrapping and fighting to come back."
It wasn't to be.
Four Gentry players scored at least 10 points in the contest, finding the basket with an array of 3-pointers, lay-ups, and transition baskets.
Brittany Hibbler's 14 points led the Lady Rams, who improved to 5-0.
"They play hard," said Williams. "They don't relent. That's something that we're trying to get our girls to see. You've got to continue fighting no matter what the score says. You still scrap and fight to the very end."
Courtney Moore led Starkville with 16 points, followed by Jacqueline Fair's 10-point output.
Seemingly though, no matter how many points Moore, Fair, and the Lady Jackets put up, Gentry's pressing defense found a way to force a turnover and get a score right back.
"That's something we stress every day," said Williams. "I know sometimes, people sitting in the stands think 'Do they ever not work against the press?' But we do every single day. It's just a matter of us building up our own self-confidence. Once we build that up, we'll be able to break as many presses as possible. I told the girls, until they have the confidence to break a press, every team is going to get in a press and stay there until they feel they can sit back comfortably in the halfcourt."
As bleak as things got Saturday, Williams did see promise following Gentry's game-changing surge.
"After the first quarter, we showed a lot more poise and determination to do a lot better than we have been doing," said Williams.
Even so, the Lady Jackets dropped to 0-4 for the season.
Starkville will get the chance to break out of its early season doldrums on Tuesday at Louisville.
The Lady Jackets will return home on Friday against Columbus.
"You take some of the good from the frustration of losing again and you build from there," said Williams. "That's what we're hoping to do after tonight."