Intensity, effort keys for Starkville basketball teams

January 24, 2010 12:23:00 AM

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


STARKVILLE -- All the Starkville High School basketball teams need is energy and a little patience. 


The boys and girls teams showed Friday just how important intensity and effort will be to the rest of their seasons in two drastically different results. 


In the boys game, the Yellow Jackets had revenge as their motivation, and they didn''t disappoint. Rashad Perkins scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gavin Ware added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Starkville past Tupelo 69-54.  


"We actually made jump shots tonight and we rebounded a whole lot better," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "We played with a lot more energy tonight than we played with up there. I thought Gavin and Rashad were a lot more energized, and because of that they had a bigger impact on the game." 


Starkville followed that victory up Saturday by beating Noxubee County 73-58.  


The Yellow Jackets were led by Perkins with 19 points and Ware with 17 points and 11 rebounds. 


In the girls game Friday, Kari Copeland had a game-high 16 points to help Tupelo pull away for a 65-47 victory. 


Starkville rebounded from the loss Saturday to beat Noxubee County 70-46. Shay Bonner had 21 points and Kala Williams added 18. 


The Starkville boys were ranked the top team in Class 6A last week before they lost at Tupelo. The rematch was a nine-point game in the third quarter before Starkville (18-2, 4-1 district) pulled away in the fourth quarter. Two dunks by Perkins, who will play basketball at Southern Miss next season, in the final minutes helped provide the exclamation points. 


Edward Townsel added 14 points and six assists for the Yellow Jackets. 


Carter said the energy from Perkins and Ware was contagious. He likened the effort of those two players to the performance of Mississippi State guard Phil Turner, who sparked the Bulldogs late in the second half in a come-from-behind victory against Georgia. 


Carter hopes the victories have helped Starkville put losses to Tupelo (15-8, 3-2) and Jackson Lanier behind them. As talented as some of the young Yellow Jackets are, he said the team is "playing for now" and is focused on getting through its district and advancing to Jackson, the site of the state championships. 


Carter said the key for Starkville will be playing with plenty of energy and a balance of patience. 


"I think we learned a lesson" Carter said. "We''re learning patience. I am by nature not a patient person, but this whole team is learning patience. We showed some tonight (offensively and defensively)." 


In Friday''s girls game, Starkville used an impressive start to take a 9-2 lead in the first three minutes. But Tupelo regrouped to take a 14-13 lead at the 6-minute, 59-second mark of the second quarter. From there, the Lady Wave, who placed four players in double figures, pulled away.  


The Lady Jackets (14-5, 1-4) used a solid opening portion of the third quarter to make it close. A more aggressive defense helped Starkville turn Tupelo (16-7) over and translated to the other end. Bonner (14 points) took the outlet pass off a rebound near midcourt and raced in for a layup that gave the Lady Jackets a 26-24 lead. A short jump shot by Ashley Robinson and four free throws by Johniece Moore helped the Lady Jackets maintain the lead until the end of the quarter when Columbus High transfer Chy Cunningham''s jumper with 1.2 seconds remaining in the quarter gave Tupelo a 35-34 lead. 


The Lady Wave''s margin ballooned to 21 in the fourth quarter thanks to contributions from Aftan Goree (12 points), Raven Cofer and Antionette Riddle (10 each), and Amber Jackson (nine). 


"I thought they did a good job of being strong and not being rattled by (Starkville''s pressure)," Tupelo coach Stephanie Murphy said. "They put so much pressure on us the first time we played them at home, I think the girls were kind of expecting it. I think the girls were comfortable with it, and once they saw they could break it one or two times I think momentum just carried us the rest of the way." 


Courtney Moore had 10 points and Williams had seven points in a foul-plagued evening for the Lady Jackets. 


Starkville High coach Kristie Williams said her players need to find a way to deliver more energy for 32 minutes if they don''t want their season to end in the second week of February. 


"We have to have everyone on board and ready to play at a moment''s notice, whether you''re a starter or coming off the bench," Williams said. "You''ve got to be ready to play play. If not, you''re going to have games like this." 


Williams said the Lady Jackets can''t allow one or two things to keep them down. She said the team has to respond and work harder when it is down. 


"Unfortunately we allowed ourselves to get down once the scores flip-flopped and Tupelo picked up the energy on their side," Williams said. "We decided to just fold and not to play hard." 


Williams said the loss is the worst of the team''s five this season. She said she continues to preach heart and self motivation, and stress that those two elements can carry a team in the home stretch of a season. 


"It is down now to how bad do we really want it?" Williams said. "I told them after the game if you want Feb. 9 to be your last game for this season continue to play the way you played tonight. If you want to an opportunity to go on, you have to find some type of way to get yourself motivated and ready to play." 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.