By JAMES CARSKADON
For the Daily News
For head coach Greg Carter’s Starkville High squad, Friday night further validated the No. 3 6A ranking the Yellowjackets currently hold.
The Jackets rolled over Grenada 87-64, and Jacolby Mobley stole the show with 24 points and eight assists.
“He played well and made shots,” Carter said. “When his jumper is falling like that he’s hard to stop.”
While Mobley was a force on the outside, Gavin Ware dominated the paint against an under-sized Chargers team. The senior had 14 points and did not allow much to get by him on the defensive end of the floor.
The Jackets improved to 7-1 on the season with the win, with their only blemish on the record coming against a talented Meridian team.
Tory Rice was the third Yellow Jacket in double figures with 11 points.
Starkville High jumped out to a 15-1 lead to start the game, and Grenada did not score its first field goal until there was three minutes left in the first quarter. The Chargers went on a run at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter to pull within nine at 25-16 early in the second.
However, that would be the last time Grenada was within single digits of the Yellow Jackets. Starkville High cruised the rest of the second quarter and by halftime the Jackets held a 43-24 lead.
Despite the lopsided score, Carter still saw his team play in spurts that featured Jacket turnovers and missed free throws.
“The way they play makes you play in spurts,” Carter said. “They play fast, fast, fast and then they shoot a lot of threes. We had some times where we didn’t make free throws very well. Second half, start of the third quarter though we picked it up, and that helped spread that lead.”
It was more of the same in the second half, as Starkville relied on the fast break and knocking down shots from the perimeter to come out with a 87-64 win.
The Mobley to Ware connection was made all game for the Jackets, as Mobley found Ware both under the basket and above the rim for buckets.
“On defense they weren’t hipping off nobody, so they had the lines wide open,” Mobley said. “They really gave us the chance to do what we wanted to do on offense.”
Matching up against Grenada forwards that were two or three inches shorter than Ware, the SHS big man was able to have his way in the paint.
“They didn’t have a whole lot of size to match up with Gavin,” Carter said. “They dropped as many people in there as they could, and sometimes that still didn’t’ help. He’s a force inside.”
It may not have been exactly how head coach Kristi Williams drew it up, but her Lady Jackets team won a come-from behind thriller at the Beehive Friday night.
Starkville High rallied from an eight-point fourth quarter deficit and held on to the lead with clutch free throw shooting from Rebecca Myles and Brittany Brown.
“They played with a lot of heart tonight, and I can’t say enough about the effort they presented tonight,” Williams said. “When you play as hard as they played tonight, good things will come about. I just hope that this is the momentum that carries through the other games that we play.”
Grenada opened the game on a 12-2 run, but Starkville High quickly responded with a 19-4 run to take the lead, which would become a one-point Lady Jacket advantage at the half.
Behind all four of the Lady Chargers who would end the game in double figures, Grenada took a 50-43 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“In the third quarter we had a moment of weakness,” Williams said. “We took some possessions off and that put us down in the hole coming into the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Jackets erased the Grenada lead and tied the game at 61-all with 1:40 remaining on a basket from Courtney Moore, who had a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. Moore gave the Lady Jackets the lead less than 40 seconds later, 63-61, with another basket.
After Grenada tied the game on the following possession, Brittany Brown knocked down two free throws to give the SHS another two-point advantage, this time for good. Jonissa Buchanan and Miles both added on to the Lady Jackets’ lead with free throws of their own, giving SHS a 68-64 victory.
For Williams, she would rather see her girls make free throws throughout the game and not have the outcome decided in the final minute of play.
“We’ve got to make more during the course of the game so it won’t come down to making pressure free throws to win a game,” Williams said. “We have a ways to go and we’re still young in our season.”
“We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation, but you don’t want to take away from how hard they did play.”
Both Starkville High teams will be back in action tomorrow when they travel to Indianola-Gentry.