Starkville High School’s Tabreea Gandy (10) battles St. Martin’s Daphanie White (21) for possession Saturday in Jackson. White, a Mississippi State signee, scored 22 points for St. Martin. Photo by: Robert Smith/Special to The Dispatch
March 4, 2018 12:44:30 AM
By Laurence Hilliard
Special to The Dispatch
JACKSON -- It took the Starkville High School girls basketball team a quarter and a half to get rolling Saturday morning.
The Lady Yellow Jackets had plenty of firepower when they turned it on.
Tabreea Gandy and Jariyah Covington tied for team-high scoring honors with 15 points to lead four players in double figures in Starkville's 56-43 victory against St. Martin in the quarterfinals of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A State tournament at Mississippi Coliseum.
"I think we were able to calm down," said Starkville coach Kristie Williams, who jumped for joy with her players in the locker room after the game. "I think in the first quarter we were kind of antsy with anticipation."
Starkville (26-2) will play Pearl, which defeated Warren Central 64-58 on Saturday, in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Mississippi Coliseum.
The semifinal winners will play at 6 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi Coliseum for the title.
"I think once we were able to settle down and get into our groove, we turned the corner and we were able to do what we do best," Williams said.
Jalisa Outlaw had 12 points and Kirsten Thompson added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Gandy added seven rebounds for Starkville (25-2), the reigning Class 6A State champion.
Starkville capitalized when St. Martin 6-foot-5 senior center Daphane White, a Mississippi State signee, picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter and sat out the rest of the half. White dominated early with 13 points and seven rebounds. She left the game with St. Martin leading 22-9. Starkville then scored 15-straight points to take a 25-24 halftime lead.
Williams took a time out with her team trailing 17-7 and went to a full-court press.
"I thought we could put pressure on their guards," Williams said. "I know we have a good press, and I knew that would turn the corner for us to get our energy level up."
Starkville forced 18 turnovers and limited St. Martin (25-3) to 33-percent shooting (8-for-24) in the second half.
Starkville had 11 turnovers and shot 38 percent (19-for-50) from the field.
St. Martin took its last lead at 30-29 early in the third quarter on a basket by White.
Covington answered with a 3-pointer to put Starkville ahead to stay.
Amaria Strong added seven rebounds to help Starkville win the battle of the boards 38-32.
White had a game-high 22 points (10-for-23 shooting, 2-for-7 from the free-throw line) and 10 rebounds. She also had two blocked shots. TyJanae Brown (seven points) was the next highest scorer.
St. Martin coach Regina Bell said White's foul trouble was a key, but she added, "Starkville has a very good team."
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