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Local teams fall in opening round of Travis Outlaw


Scott Walters



STARKVILLE -- Even though Christmas Day has come and gone, several area basketball teams were still in the charitable mood Wednesday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. 


Starkville, Aberdeen and New Hope found the sledding tough as each fell in opening-round games at the second Travis Outlaw Slam Dunk at The Hump basketball tournament. 


The three-day event resumes with thee more games scheduled for this afternoon on the MSU campus. 


n Midfield, Ala. 41, Starkville 25: The youthful Yellow Jackets continue to struggle to put together things on the offensive end. 


When Starkville falls into a scoring lapse, the stretch can last almost an entire quarter. 


In Wednesday night's defeat to Midland (8-6), Starkville (4-6) only scored two points in both the second and fourth quarters. 


"We are really struggling to score," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "Our turnover numbers are not bad. We rebound and we play hard but we can't get the ball to go down. 


"Then to complicate matters we have to put a tremendous amount of effort into rallying to just to stay in games." 


Wednesday's setback followed the similar theme of many other games from the season. 


A 3-point basket by Ravonte Gandy brought the Jackets within 10-9. Midfield scored the game's next 17 points. 


The Yellow Jackets missed 16 consecutive shots before Zeb Rice got a putback to go with 2:34 left in the half. 


Neither team scored the rest of the half and the Patriots led 27-11 at the intermission. 


"We were a little intimidated early but we regrouped and had a nice third quarter," Carter said. 


"We simply ran out of gas to complete the rally." 


Starkville did find some answers offensively. The Yellow Jackets' full-court pressure also forced seven different Midfield turnovers. 


Back-to-back baskets by Avonte Amos brought the hosts within 33-23 as the third quarter expired. 


Midfield ran the clock and eased the contest into the victory column in the fourth frame. 


Once again, Starkville did not have a bucket until Amos scored on a baseline jumper in the game's final minute. 


Amos paced the Yellow Jackets with 14 points. Midfield received 14 points from Arron Gaines. 


n Hamilton, Tenn. 72, Aberdeen 61: The teams appeared poised to play a high-scoring affair after a first-quarter which was end-to-end. 


The Bulldogs (8-4) found that pace to their liking as they led 21-20 after one quarter. 


Hamilton (8-3) used some trapping to affect Aberdeen in the second quarter. 


Dedric Lawson and Tyren Collier set the tone offensively for the Wildcats. Defensive pressure also led to steals in the open court and some fast-break opportunities. 


Hamilton took control in the final minute of the first half. 


The Wildcats led 34-31 at the intermission. 


"This was a great opportunity for our program," Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said. "You really have to step it up under the bright lights. 


"The best of the best are playing here. We did some things well but not enough overall to win a game. However, I think we will certainly grow from this experience." 


Hamilton built a 44-35 lead midway through the third quarter. The Bulldogs picked up the pace and got the tempo back to their liking. 


Aberdeen responded with 10 straight points, including two steals and fast break lay-ups by Kendrick McCoy. 


Still, the Wildcats moved back on top 50-47 after three quarters and put the contest away with seven straight points to start the final period. 


McCoy led Aberdeen with 14 points, while Brandon Hodges had 10 points. 


Keelon Lawson led Hamilton with 21 points. 


n Lanett, Ala. 51, New Hope 40: In the opener, the Trojans fell down 6-0 quickly but responded nicely. 


Down by many as nine points in the first quarter, New Hope (7-6) responded for a 24-21 lead in the final minute of the first half. 


Lanett (10-2) tied the contest on a 3-pointer by Justice Jackson. 


Thanks to a strong performance at the free throw line, New Hope still hung tough, only down 36-33 late in the third quarter. 


The Panthers scored the final eight points of the quarter and put the clamps down defensively in the fourth quarter. 


New Hope managed only three field goals in the final 10 minutes of play. 


Whyatt Foster led the Trojans with 10 points. Lanett got 14 points from Desmond Stevenson and 11 points from Orendaz Holloway.


Scott is sports copy editor and reporter


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