Smith on Sports: Lady Jackets struggle to get going at times

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

Kristie Williams knows what a state championship caliber team looks like.

She saw that many times last year as the Starkville Lady Yellowjackets reached the Class 6A State Tournament and got in a position to win a state championship.

So far this season, Williams has not watched very many of those performances out of her Lady Jackets.

Saturday was one of those struggles as Starkville trailed 9-4 after the first quarter before rallying to take a 57-42 victory over Minor, Alabama, at the Joe Horne Christmas Classic in Columbus.

The Lady Jackets are still a very good team and have an 8-1 record to prove it. They are only an overtime loss to Choctaw Central from being undefeated right now.

Yes the record is great, but getting there hasn’t always looked pretty.

Starkville only had one field goal in the first quarter against Minor and missed several wide open shots, missed too many free throws, couldn’t get rebounds and had way too many turnovers when Minor went to the press.

Williams likes the fact that the Lady Jackets still found a way to win despite all of those problems, but sooner or later it may cost them.

“We still have a ways to go to be the team that I know we can be,” Williams said.

The pieces are there.

Jariyah Covington and Tabreea Gandy are two of the best guards in the state. They can go out and score 20 points quick. Starkville definitely would not have won the game Saturday against Minor without their production.

Jalisa Outlaw has also had some big games for the Lady Jackets, but needs to be more consistent. Players like Kirsten Thompson, Amaria Strong, Idalis Suell and Donsha Lee must continue to improve in the post.

The schedule is about to get much tougher for SHS and Williams wants to see her team get off to better starts as the year winds down.

“We’re not being as consistent as I want us to be,” Williams said. “Until that comes, we are going to battle and have these tough games. The games that finish 2017 are going to be tough.”

After participating in the Olive Branch Tournament on December 23, the Lady Jackets take on Center Hill on December 26 and Olive Branch on December 27 at the Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at the Hump Tournament.

It will definitely take a good performance from start to finish to come out of that stretch with three victories.

Danny P. Smith is the 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 SDN or its staff.