January 12, 2013 10:47:19 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Academy girls basketball team showed even a jinx wasn't enough to stop it.
Earlier this week, Starkville Academy made history when it became the first member of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools to be ranked in The Clarion-Ledger's Super 10 poll. The Lady Volunteers, the defending Class AAA, Division II, Class AAA, and overall MAIS champions, started the week ranked No. 9 in this week's poll.
Coach Glenn Schmidt informed her players of the news and immediately began to worry. Her fear was that the honor would prove to be a distraction, especially with a pivotal game against Presbyterian Christian in Hattiesburg set for Friday.
Schmidt can rest a little easier today.
On Friday, Anna Lea Little had 18 points and eight rebounds and Tiffany Huddleston had 16 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals to lead Starkville Academy to a 53-43 victory.
On Saturday, Starkville Academy improved to 23-0 with a 55-12 victory against Copiah Academy. Maggie Proffitt paced the Lady Volunteers, who have won 32 games in a row dating back to last season, with 17 points.
"They handled (the ranking) really well and the jinx is off," Schmidt said Saturday. "The day it came out it got everybody rattled and it went through the school and when they came to me seventh period I told them I really think it is a great honor for them, the school, and the MAIS. I wanted to remind them it wasn't our goal and that it was nice, but I knew what they wanted. They want to win a state championship. They looked at me like, 'Coach, don't worry about this. We have got this.' "
Starkville Academy, the No. 1 team in Class AAA, proved it was ready for PCS, the No. 2 team, by mixing a solid defensive and offensive effort. Nora Kathryn Carroll (three points, four rebounds, two assists) led a defensive effort against leading scorer Trista Magee, who scored only nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.
True to form, Starkville Academy received balanced scoring, as Sallie Kate Richardson had eight points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots, Proffitt had eight points, six rebounds, and two steals before fouling out, and Maridee Higginbotham had two assists.
"It took us about two or three minutes early to adjust to that type of defense," Schmidt said. "We hadn't seen it in a while. PCS is as good as it gets at it. ... They took away our running game and chose to take different things away from different players, but we had players step up."
Schmidt praised the all-around effort, especially on defense for helping to set the tone.
"We did take away offensively what they like to do," Schmidt said. "Our defense has got to be our go-to player. I think last night it was."
On Saturday, Proffitt added four rebounds, three assists, four steals, and two blocks. Richardson had nine points, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, Little had nine points and four rebounds, Huddleston had six points, three rebounds, and six assists, Janiece Pigg had five points and five rebounds, and Carroll had four points, two rebounds, and two assists.
Starkville Academy will play Tuesday at Hillcrest Christian, Friday at Pillow Academy, and Saturday against Oak Hill Academy.
n Columbus (boys) 47, South Panola 38; Columbus (girls) 75, South Panola 50: At Batesville, Columbus won a pair of Class 6A, Region 2 games Friday night.
The boys won their fourth straight victory, while the girls remained undefeated in region play.
Josh Turner led the boys (11-5, 3-1 region) with 15 points, while D.D. Walker added 13 points.
Columbus battled back from an early seven-point deficit to force a 22-22 tie at halftime. The Falcons continued a theme on their winning streak with suffocating defense in the fourth quarter. Columbus allowed seven points in the final period.
In the opener, Kiki Patterson led Columbus (10-5, 4-0) with 27 points. Daisha Williams added 15 points.
Columbus will close region play next week when it travels to Tupelo on Tuesday and plays host to South Panola on Friday.
n In other action, the Starkville High basketball teams split with Yazoo City: The girls earned a much-needed road victory with a 48-28 Class 5A, Region 3 win at Yazoo City.
Blair Schaefer led the Lady Jackets (8-4, 2-0 region) with 24 points and six assists.
In the nightcap, the Starkville boys dropped a 47-38 decision. The Yellow Jackets couldn't protect a 19-17 halftime lead.
Avonte Amos led Starkville with 14 points.
Starkville will play host to Grenada on Tuesday.
n Immanuel Christian 41, Manchester Academy 24: Taylor Kidder had 21 points, eight rebounds, and four steals Friday to lead the Lady Rams (5-11).
Keri Ann Hutcherson had six points and four rebounds, and Haley Good had six points and seven rebounds.
In the junior varsity game, Chloe Hainsey had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals in a 27-20 victory.
Kamdyn Bailey had five points and five rebounds.
On Thursday, Kidder had 12 points and eight rebounds and Haley Good had 12 points and seven rebounds in a 42-21 victory against Starkville Christian.
Mary Katherine Good had eight points, seven rebounds, and four steals, and Hutcherson had eight points and six rebounds.
Hainsey had eight points, six steals, and 11 rebounds to lead the JV team to a 23-22 victory.
Bailey had five points and four rebounds, and McKinley Coleman had four points and 12 rebounds.
n Columbus (boys) 3, Grenada 0: At Grenada, the Falcons used goals by Ricky Hackler, Charles Stanback, and Christian Dale to improve to 11-5 and 1-1 in the district.
The victory came on the heels of a 3-0 loss to Tupelo earlier in the week.
"It is great to see the boys' hard work and commitment to one another paying off," Columbus coach Ben Moore said. "I am very proud of the senior leadership on this team."
Columbus will play host to Tupelo on Tuesday and to Grenada on Friday. A victory in either match will earn Columbus a return trip to the state playoffs. Two victories would help the Falcons secure the district championship.
Hackler, who signed earlier this week to play soccer at Itawamba Community College, scored first on a penalty kick. The Falcons' controlled passing game helped produce goals by Stanback, a freshman, off an assist from senior Jordan Miller, and a goal by Dale off an assist from senior Greg Giles.
"The team did a nice job of putting the last game behind them and learning from our mistakes to improve our outcome," Moore said.
In the opening match of the evening, the Columbus girls (6-9-1, 0-2 district) lost to Grenada 7-0.
n Caledonia (girls) 2, Pontotoc 1: At Pontotoc, Emily Brewer's team-leading 13th goal of the season lifted the Lady Confederates to a key district victory.
Brewer scored off an assist from Hope Burton to help Caledonia rally from a 1-0 deficit. Peyton Stanley scored off an assist from Jordan Wade for the first goal.
Sarah Freeman had 17 saves for Caledonia.
In the final match of the evening, the Pontotoc boys defeated Caledonia 3-1.
2. Howland likes MSU's non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS