By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Yellowjackets must go on the road tonight to play in the first round of the Class 6A North Tournament.
There's a possibility Starkville has to do that without starting post player Gavin Ware.
Despite those two things working against the Jackets, they still plan to meet the challenge of playing DeSoto Central head on in the first-round of the Class 6A North State Tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After losing a 67-64 decision to Tupelo last Friday to settle for the second seed out of Class 6A, Region 2, Starkville boys coach Greg Carter said his team must play with the cards it is dealt.
"You've still got to play and the game is going to go on, no matter what the circumstances are," Carter said. "You can sit around and dwell on all the circumstances and forget about the job that needs to be done. To have a chance to win, we're not going to do that."
The Jackets have a record of 17-7 heading into North play, one year removed from winning the Class 6A state crown and overall Grand Slam title.
Now that the program has established a pattern of success, anything less than a victory at DeSoto Central tonight would be considered a disappointment.
"The expectations here is to win every year and that's what we're trying to do," Carter said.
Starkville punched its ticket for North postseason action by beating Columbus 56-39.
Ware, who bruised a knee against the Falcons, remains questionable for tonight's game, while point guard Jacolby Mobley is expected to be well enough from his bruised ribs to play for the Jackets.
Having Mobley back on the court will help as Carter said DeSoto Central, a team with 20 wins already this season, won't be an easy opponent.
"They can shoot it. As a team, they shoot it really well," Carter said. "They don't play a whole lot of guys, but play a controlled-tempo game.
Carter said it will be important for SHS to shoot free throws better and finish plays around the basket. The Jackets came up short in those two areas in the loss to Tupelo.