January 19, 2013 11:15:01 PM
STARKVILLE --The Starkville Academy boys basketball team is starting to reap the benefits of an early season gauntlet.
Starkville Academy, once a handful of games under .500, added to its resurgent streak Saturday with a 56-37 victory against Oak Hill Academy. The victory was the fifth in the last six games for the Volunteers (13-10).
Senior Carnail Minor hit three 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to lead Starkville Academy. Coach Mark Alexander said Minor had been struggling from the perimeter in the past five games.
"That was big," Alexander said. "Teams know he's our best shooter, and teams have guarded him well. He's been struggling to hit his three consistently, so it was good to see tonight."
Starkville led 15-14 after the first quarter, but Minor exploded in the second quarter to help Starkville Academy take a 35-20 halftime lead. The Volunteers benefited from a furious full-court press that resulted in a string of easy buckets from Minor and Sharp.
"They were jumping us a little, and you have to flash," Oak Hill Academy coach Brian Middleton said. "There were a couple of times we got to the rim, but we just didn't finish. A lot of it was the inability to stop their dribble drive. We're not built to score 70 a night. Can't get stops, can't win ballgames."
Riley Pierce and Chance Wilson each had nine points to lead Oak Hill Academy. The Raiders, however, struggled to keep the Volunteers out of the lane, particularly point guard Brandon Sharp. The senior had 12 points and seven assists.
"Brandon does a great job with the ball in his hands," Alexander said. "It's hard to stay in front of him. We knew that would be an advantage."
Said Middleton, "We struggled keeping a lot of their guys out of the lane. That penetration really hurt us."
n Starkville Academy 57, Oak Hill 25: The unbeaten run continues.
The Lady Volunteers anticipated a heated game against the Lady Raiders, who came in with 20 wins. But after a 40-7 lead at halftime, it was clear which team brought more energy into the rivalry match.
Three Lady Volunteers reached double figures, led by forward Maggie Proffitt, who scored 22 and pulled down nine rebounds. Tiffany Huddleston had 13, and Anna Lea Little had 11.
"Going up 40-7 at the half kind of summed up the whole game," Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said. "We knew they (Oak Hill) were a good team, but the seniors wanted to make a statement. We respect them as a team, so I think that's why we came out so hard.
"Seven points in a half, that's all I can say."
The Lady Vols moved to 26-0, while Oak Hill fell to 20-5.
Starkville Academy's size, which includes 6-foot center Sallie Kate Richardson and 5-foot-10 forwards Little and Proffitt, gave the Lady Raiders fits inside, Oak Hill coach Stan Hughey said.
"That size gives everyone problems," Hughey said. "We have decent size, but we have nothing like what they have. We got a lot of stops early, but we couldn't keep them off the boards. We had nine rebounds at the half. When you don't rebound well, you can't compete with them."
Along with SA's size advantage, the Lady Volunteers' team speed buried the Lady Raiders early.
"We love to run the floor, and when we're doing that we're playing our best," Proffitt said. "Our rebounding only added to it."
3. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS