By DANNY P. SMITH
Coach Glenn Schmidt's Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers are growing up quickly right before our eyes.
There have been signs lately that the Lady Vols can be a team to be reckoned with for a long time if everything continues to move in the direction it appeared to be going.
Over the weekend, Starkville Academy posted a pair of wins against Magnolia Heights School 49-26 at home on Friday and at Clarksdale-Lee Academy 65-11 on Saturday. Neither opponent seemed to be very strong, but both games were Class AAA-North games for the Lady Vols and needed to be won.
Starkville Academy has records of 10-8 overall and 3-3 in the conference. Considering there are no seniors on the roster, It's pretty good for the Lady Vols to get those marks in the first half of the season.
Schmidt doesn't like to single out players for their performance on the court so it's worth touching on several of them that have been coming along for Starkville Academy in a positive way.
During the game against Magnolia Heights, it was hard not to notice the contributions of Nora Kathryn Carroll and Sallie Kate Richardson. Carroll led the Lady Vols against the Lady Chiefs, while Richardson pulled down 11 rebounds.
In the rout of Clarksdale-Lee the next day, Carroll scored 12 points, while Richardson just missed a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Carroll and Richardson are only freshmen and that's the most interesting thing.
The 6-foot Richardson has just turned 14-years-old. Imagine what she can be two or three more years down the road as she stays committed.
The glue that holds the team together is junior point guard Anna Prestridge.
Prestridge came into the season as really the only Lady Vol with much playing experience. She scores, dishes out assists, makes key steals and even rebounds from her position which has been a key to SA's success early in the season.
There's also sophomore Anna Lea Little, a transfer from Starkville Christian, that has showed flashes of being a really good player. She has a nice shot, especially from three-point range.
Schmidt also gets good minutes out of juniors Julianne Jackson, April Burney, Lauren Atwell and Brittany Jacks.
Shifting to the Vols, they are making progress under new coach Chris Lyle.
There have been some disappointing losses along the way, but after only winning once all of last season, it's a positive sign to see SA's 5-9 record going into the Christmas break.
There's a good mix of veterans and youth available to Lyle with seniors like J.R. Gerhart, juniors like Jon Michael Robinson and Austin Kinard and sophomores like Jordan Bright, who seems to be coming on lately.
Both the Vols and Lady Vols face public school competition next week at the Magnolia Heights Tournament and those experiences should be very beneficial as the programs move forward.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.