January 5, 2013 11:30:32 PM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt hopes her team's victory Saturday proves it can win even if isn't making outside shots.
While facing one of the state's best perimeter players in guard Olivia Mabry, Starkville Academy held the rest of the Lamar School team to 16 points en route to a 74-36 victory.
"Our defense is our bread and butter, and people don't believe me when I say that because we score offensively so well, but we know we're going to see some really good defensive teams here real soon," Schmidt said.
The Lady Volunteers (21-0) continued their winning streak thanks to a 22-10 run in the first quarter. Senior transfer Maggie Proffitt scored a game-high 26 points to lead the way. She was 10-for-12 from the field and had eight rebounds.
Starkville Academy shot 58.8 from the field and made 7 of 14 from 3-point range. However, the Lady Volunteers' size advantage led to easy baskets and helped them build a 33-16 rebounding edge, including a 12-5 mark on the offensive end.
Mabry led Lamar (13-6) with 20 points, but Schmidt was happy she was forced to take 20 shots to do it. No other Lamar School player had more than six points.
"We've been playing against her for going on five years now because she was good enough to play as a eighth-grader, and she's just hard to guard," Schmidt said. "I thought we contained her well enough to win. My concern is sometimes when you have to help on her you get out of position, but we recovered well on defense."
The Christmas break layoff concerned Schmidt, but her veteran team of three seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup didn't show much rust after being given four days off from practice.
Schmidt said the team avoided a scoring drought thanks to the play of senior point guard Tiffany Huddleston (four points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals).
"It is great to start the new year with a victory, especially against a great basketball team," Schmidt said. "We expected our girls to be flat and they just weren't, and a lot of that is Huddleston having the ball with her 'go, go, go' attitude."
Starkville Academy will travel Friday to Hattiesburg to take on Presbyterian Christian.
Starkville Academy boys 52, Lamar 43
The Volunteers received a wake-up call Saturday afternoon and discovered they can't win by showing up and not giving a spirited effort.
The good news is coach Mark Alexander will have a teaching point he can use the rest of the season.
"It was bad, and I knew it was going to be bad before the game started," Alexander said. "It was a matter of us not being ready to play, and I take responsibility for that."
After Lamar School took a 9-1 lead, Alexander called a timeout and took his starters to task for a lack of focus on both ends of the floor.
"I just felt like that they needed something and we were coming out of break out of sync," Alexander said.
That "something" Alexander decided Starkville Academy (8-9) needed was a full-court press that triggered a 19-3 run that gave the Volunteers their first lead.
Brandon Lane had a team-high 14 points for the Volunteers and has been what the team needs after getting 10 points off the bench last week in a victory against Hernando High.
"We don't have a lot of size and he gives us some post presence, which is huge right now for us as a 10-grader," Alexander said.
The other calming influence was the play of point guard Brandon Sharp, who helped four teammates reach double figures.
"You won't find too many better than Brandon Sharp at handling the ball, and nobody has taken the basketball from him this season," Alexander said. "He's the ideal player there because he's the smartest kid I've ever coached."
Lance Strickland led Lamar School with 15 points.