February 7, 2010 12:41:00 AM
MACON -- The Starkville High School girls basketball team avoided an upset Friday, staving off a fourth quarter rally by Noxubee County for a 53-37 win.
Starkville''s Shay Bonner led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate Kala Williams finished with 10.
The Lady Jackets entered the game a day after dropping a one-point district home loss to South Panola.
The win improved Starkville to 15-7. The Lady Yellow Jackets play Tupelo on Tuesday in the Class 6A, Region 2 Tournament.
After Friday''s heartbreaker, Starkville coach Kristie Williams was pleased to see her team rebound in the face of a furious rally.
"It was something we needed to do after last night," she said. "After having the lead, we were too excited and overzealous last night. Being able to bounce back and withstand the pressure we knew Noxubee was going to bring, I think it''s great for out mental game to understand we can have a setback and bounce right back."
Ciera Chandler scored 13 points for Noxubee County, which opens the Class 4A, Region 4 Tournament against Louisville on Monday.
Noxubee County coach T.J. Billups called a timeout midway through the second quarter with the Tigerettes down 20-17. The deficit was more than manageable, but a pair of careless possessions that brought out frustration in guard Jade Stewart gave a glimpse into what was to come in the rest of the period and after the break.
Starkville''s domination on the offensive glass proved draining for the Tigerettes, even though Lady Jackets forward Rebecca Myles was unlucky to come away with points on a trio of put-back attempts.
Still, the volume in which Starkville controlled the offensive glass -- nine in the second quarter --meant second-chance points were bound to come.
The result was a 13-2 run to close the half and a 33-15 lead to take into the locker room.
"That was huge for us because [Friday] we weren''t able to rebound as well," Williams said. "For them to come out and set the tone by crashing the boards it''s exciting to close out the regular season that way. It looked really good."
Bonner had 14 points in the first half for SHS, and the Lady Jackets appeared on there way to a blowout after holding a 43-24 edge at the end of the third.
Then, the fourth quarter came.
Starkville''s shooting went ice cold, and with it came mistakes in its own offensive half as five turnovers and a one-person force in Noxubee County''s Chandler slowly started to tilt the score line.
The Tigerettes (15-10) put together a 10-0 run behind six points from Chandler, climbing to within nine (43-34) with 3:27 left in the game.
A block by Stewart on Bonner''s fast-break layup attempt showed the energy from the run was still going, but the means and time to complete a 19-point comeback against the Lady Jackets just weren''t there.
With the win threatened and the prospects of a second heart-breaking loss in as many nights growing by the second, Starkville buckled down and closed the game on a 10-3 through Courtney Moore, who scored five points in the run.
"Our Achilles heal this year has been waiting to play until late in the game," Billups said. "Each time we come out and play lackadaisical we have turnovers in the first half. But, we always seem to come out and play hard when our backs are against the wall.
This time of year, playing like that can get you sent home."
n Starkville 75, Noxubee County 33 (B): Starkville coach Greg Carter wanted a strong start and he got it Friday as the Yellow Jackets used a game-opening 24-1 run to coast past Noxubee County.
The game started with Starkville guard Jaquez Johnson converting on a 1-and-1 play, and from there the tone was set through leading scorer Rashad Perkins'' numerous alley-oop dunks and the Jackets'' inability to miss or make mistakes.
An 8-2 Noxubee County run made it 45-19 Starkville (22-2, 5-1 Class 6A, Region 2) in the second quarter, but Starkville still took a 30-point lead, 51-21 into the break before leading by as many as 47 points late in the fourth quarter.
Solid stuff in the mind of Carter, who lauded his team''s play especially in the first quarter.
"We''ve been talking about getting off to a good start for about a week now," Carter said. "It''s been a while since we really got off to a good start like that, and we''ve been harping on it so much. We executed, rebounded and (Noxubee) couldn''t make a basket. Tonight was a good way to close the regular season."
Perkins led all scorers with 27 points and 14 rebounds to spoil the Tigers'' Senior Night, and the Southern Miss signee was keen to have a thorough performance after the overtime thriller last year in Macon.
"We came into this game anxious to play because it''s a big rivalry on account of what happened last year," Perkins said. "We had fun, like we always try to do, and got off to a good start tonight. It was a good team win."
Starkville guard Edward Townsel had 16 points and 10 assists, while forward Calvin Young had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Without Gavin Ware or Jacolby Mobley in the lineup Friday, Carter praised his team''s depth ahead of its region tournament opener against South Panola on Tuesday.
"We got some guys stepping up lately who''ve improved as the season''s worn on, and we''re putting them out there and they''re playing well," Carter said. "Calvin Young stepped up tonight and stepped in there against bigger guys and he gets 10 boards.
"(Starkville guard) Brandon Johnson, we ask him to come in and guard the other team''s best player, and he rises to the occasion. I think that''s all he thinks about when he plays. It helps add to our depth and that''s what we need heading into the playoffs."
For Noxubee County (13-10) head coach T.J. Billups, the landslide loss isn''t the way he hoped to enter Monday''s Class 4A, Region 4 tournament against Caledonia.
He bemoaned his team''s lack of energy.
"Starkville jumped out to a 10-point lead and we just never could match their energy or effort, especially that effort on the offensive and defensive boards," Billups said.
2. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS