March 13, 2010 11:50:00 PM
JACKSON -- Edward Townsel rediscovered his shooting touch Saturday afternoon to help the Starkville High School boys basketball team claim the Mississippi High School Activities Association Grand Slam Championship.
After being held to four points Friday in the semifinals against West Bolivar, the senior guard scored a game-high 25 points to lead Starkville past Jackson Callaway 61-45 at Mississippi Coliseum.
"I really came out with a ready-to-play feeling because yesterday I felt like I let my team down when the game shouldn''t have been close," Townsel said. "But I came out fine today.
"I felt determined to make up (for Friday), but you don''t want to be too determined because you get anxious, so I just let the game come to me."
The victory helped Class 6A state champion Starkville cap the season with a 31-2 record, while Class 5A state champion Callaway finished 23-11.
Townsel atoned for making just 2 of 9 shots and missing both of his 3-pointers in a 57-56 victory against West Bolivar.
The championship game was a different story for the 6-foot-1 sharpshooter, who made 10 field goals, including five 3-pointers.
Townsel had the hot hand early and made four 3-pointers and scored 18 of points in the first half.
"It feels good," Townsel said when he has the long-range touch. "I feel like I''m on top of my game when I start hitting threes because when you start playing the three, with my quickness I''m able to get around anybody. When I''m hitting threes, it''s going to be hard to stop me."
Townsel made his first shot and he two 3-pointers later in the opening quarter. He continued to find the range and made two more treys in the second quarter.
"I knew he wouldn''t be the same player he was (against West Bolivar)," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "I didn''t know he''d be that good. He came out and had 18 first-half points. He carried us for a little while in the first half. Their defensive focus was on Rashad (Perkins) and he just carried us a little bit in the first half. He was tremendous."
It was Townsel''s turn to have the hot hand against Callaway after Perkins lit up West Bolivar with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting.
Callaway backed off Townsel to pay attention to the 6-foot-5 Perkins in the post and Townsel made the Chargers pay.
Perkins (nine points) injured his back during the second quarter and wasn''t as effective as he was against West Bolivar.
"We pick each other up in all kind of ways," Perkins said "If he''s not scoring, I''m scoring. If he''s scoring, I''m defending. Whatever way he goes, I''m going the other way. Whatever it takes to win the game. It''s not just us two. It''s just a team effort."
Starkville took the lead for good, 24-22, on a basket by Townsel with 6 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets led 38-28 at halftime.
Starkville limited Callaway to nine points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth, building its biggest lead of 16 points three times in the final period.
Starkville pulled away Saturday, which is something it couldn''t do against West Bolivar. The Yellow Jackets lost a 12-point lead against the Eagles and there were four ties and 13 lead changes.
"(Friday) was a game with no intensity level," Carter said. "It was hard to focus. It was hard to get into it and get going coming off winning the state championship because that''s all we talked about. For years that''s all we''ve talked about. Now you have to play a game after the state tournament, so it was tough. We were focused on this one coming in from the start,."
Gavin Ware added 11 points for Starkville.
Jeverik Nelson and Deville Smith each had 16 points for Callaway. Smith made two 3-pointers, both in the first half.