November 24, 2013 12:43:17 AM
By DAVID MILLER
Special to The Dispatch
STARKVILLE -- Richard Evans scored all of his 20 points in the second half and the Starkville High Yellow Jacket basketball team cruised to a 73-48 win over West Point on Saturday.
Evans helped spark an 8-0 third quarter run that put the game out of reach. The run also featured eight turnovers in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter by West Point.
The run turned Starkville's 29-22 halftime lead into a 51-33 lead to end the third, which was capped by and Evans jumper at the buzzer.
"We knew we needed to get off to a good start, and I'm proud of the way we executed," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "We're getting better. I said all last year that we were taking baby steps; we're taking a little bit bigger steps this year."
Starkville improved to 4-0 ahead of next Saturday's home clash with Brandon High.
West Point dropped to 3-1 and will face Kemper County at home Monday evening.
Evans' production wasn't missed as much in the first half as Dontavius Self was a spark inside with 11 points. But Evans found his groove, namely his pull-up jumper early in the third.
"He's quick with it, gets it off real fast," Carter said. "That's his favorite shot. When he gets that look, we always think it's going in. You know a guy's a shooter when it leaves his hand and you think it's going in."
West Point coach Brad Cox said his team's inability to get into a set played a role in the string of turnovers and Starkville's game-clinching run.
"They were putting a lot of pressure on us," he said. "We turned it over a few times and gave them some easy buckets. We took some bad shots, ended up with some long rebounds.
"Starkville does such a great job with their press," Cox said. "We didn't want to give them easy shots. Their half-court defense ended up being the difference.
"They did a great job on the boards; we usually have more offensive rebounds. We didn't get two or three shots like we have so far this season."
Demarcus Calvert led West Point with 13 points.
n Starkville girls 62, West Point 26: In the Lady Jackets' first three games, first-quarter intensity was absent.
Coach Kristie Williams was hopeful the club's home-opener Friday against rival West Point would help spark the early pace she's been seeking.
She got it, and then some. Starkville's starters played just half of their 62-26 win over West Point behind 28 combined points from Blair Schaefer and Imane Montgomery.
Schaefer dropped 15 points and had four assists, while Montgomery had 13 points and two assists. Schaefer knocked down four 3-pointers, while Montgomery attacked the basket and had her way in the paint.
The Lady Jackets (2-2) led 39-10 at the break after Schaefer knocked down a trey at the horn. The senior and Mississippi State signee smiled as she walked off the court.
At that point, it seemed that easy.
"I didn't think they could keep up," Montgomery said of West Point. "Whenever the ball was on the wing, we knew we could drive. They kept going for the steals, and it left us some really good looks."
While Starkville was able to settle into its offense, West Point struggled to hold on to the ball and set up its own offense. First-year head coach Dashmond Daniel said he wanted to see his team work its pick-and-roll game, but their inability to settle into a set wouldn't allow it to get started.
"We came out flat, and Starkville just moved the ball," he said. "Shcaefer and 22 (Montgomery) did a good job against us. They made us stay flat. We're young, so it was expected. We knew we were playing a good ball club tonight.
"Getting into our offense will get easier as we get more experience."
West Point (1-1) started four sophomores and one junior Friday. No seniors played.
"The fight was there, though, and that was a big positive for us," Daniel said.
"You could start to see the girls recognize some of the mistakes and execute better. We made progress."
Starkville's secondary narrative will be its bench players, who played nearly half the game due to the monstrous lead. Freshman forward was a bull inside with 13 points and 15 rebounds. While Jones had a string of turnovers, her ability to dominate the offensive boards and play at a high level was a welcome sign, said Williams.
"She's a ninth grader, so she has some things to learn," Williams said. "But the upside for her is great. She showed that potential of being a good post player tonight. She's starting to understand the level she has to play at."