January 22, 2011 11:20:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- A day after upsetting Madison-Ridgeland Academy, the Starkville Academy girls basketball team earned a 55-45 rivalry win against Oak Hill Academy.
Anna Lea Little and Sallie Kate Richardson each scored 19 points. Richardson netted her total in 16 minutes.
Point guard Anna Prestridge played the entire game and had 10 points and five assists.
The Lady Volunteers played without Little against MRA, which required them to push their already limited bench.
Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt was pleased to see her team deliver a solid performance -- and hold Oak Hill Academy''s leading scorer Tori Ellis to 3 of 9 shooting -- after upsetting Mississippi Association of Independent School''s top-ranked team on Friday.
"We were down to seven (players) with Anna Lea being sick last night, but she comes out and has a big game and a double-double," Schmidt said. "Then we get 40 rebounds tonight, which is big for us. We did what we had to do win, and we''re learning to win. Get a lead, they come back, and we score. It''s two huge wins for the girls this weekend."
The Lady Volunteers (15-12) never trailed but had to fend off a string of rallies by the Lady Raiders. Ana Ready (16 points) and Oak Hill Academy never let Starkville Academy extend its lead by more than 12 points.
Oak Hill Academy''s final run came in the fourth quarter when Ready hit a 3-pointer and Maegan Ellis came up with a steal and layup to cut the deficit to 51-45 with 1 minute, 4 seconds remaining.
But much like its 9-2 run that cut Starkville Academy''s lead to two in the second quarter, Oak Hill Academy failed to capitalize on the momentum.
"The four, five, six times we cut into that lead, (SA) made the plays but we couldn''t," Oak Hill Academy coach Stan Hughey said. "Starkville''s guards played well. Their posts played well. It was frustrating we couldn''t match them and make the plays to get over the hump."
For Schmidt, her team''s ability to close the game and fend off a strong offensive team gave her confidence ahead of games against Magnolia Heights and MRA to close the regular season.
"We''re learning how to finish games," Schmidt said. "Oak Hill can score in a hurry. You can work, work, work and they''ll always come up with a shot."
Richardson and Julianne Jackson each had two fouls by the start of the second quarter, but they stayed in the game and finished with four and three, respectively. Schmidt''s decision to leave both players in the game was part necessity and teaching.
Both players remained aggressive, especially Jackson, who had 11 rebounds and six points.
"In a game like this, (playing with fouls) is something you''ve got to learn to do," Schmidt said. "It was another positive in a good win for us."
Hughey bemoaned his team''s shot selection, which played a major role in a 28.9-percent shooting effort from the field. Ready was 4 of 15, Ellis was 3 of 9, and forward Paige Dawkins was 3 of 7.
"It was tough because we were rushing shots and just not working the ball for better looks at the basket," Hughey said. "We''ve got nothing but good teams coming up, so that''s something that can''t happen again."
Starkville Academy will returns to the court Tuesday when it plays host to East Rankin. Oak Hill (19-7) will play host to Hebron Christian on Monday and Heritage Academy on Tuesday.
Starkville Academy 63, Oak Hill 46
The Volunteers started hot with 29 first-quarter points and never looked back.
Chris Lyle''s squad hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter and carried a 29-12 lead into the second quarter. Austin Kinard, J.R. Gerhart, and Pat Jones all hit treys in the first quarter, which allowed the Volunteers to establish an up-tempo style Lyle didn''t expect after playing MRA on Friday and having a couple of his players participate in SA''s soccer match against Presbyterian Christian earlier Saturday.
"You''re wondering, as a coach, if we''re gonna have anything left for tonight," Lyle said.
The only close-call the Volunteers experienced Saturday was a 9-4 Oak Hill run that cut their lead to 36-25 with 2:10 left in the second quarter.
But Gerhart and Austin Marsh hit back-to-back layups and Patrick Jones turned a steal into a layup to help Starkville Academy take a 44-27 halftime lead.
"We got it to 12 maybe and miss a three that would have cut it to single digits," Oak Hill Academy coach Brian Middleton said. "As soon as we missed it, the air went out of the balloon and (SA) went on a 6-0 run to push it back out to 17. They played really good tonight. Coach Lyle has done a good job with that squad."
Gerhart scored a game-high 15 for the Volunteers (7-17), followed by Jones with 11 and Adam Crittenden with nine. Austin Kinard and Jordan Graham each had eight.
Lyle is excited to see his team start to show the signs of improvement in a rebuilding season.
"The chemistry and the flow is starting to come together," Lyle said. "Seven and 17 by no means is going to impress anybody, but I think if you ask a lot of coaches around our league, not many people are gonna want to play us come tournament time."
Oak Hill (9-14) played without senior guard Zach Bryan and had just eight players.
John Williamson led the Raiders with 13, while Steven Jones had 12.
Oak Hill Academy will play host to Hebron Christian on Monday, while Starkville Academy will play host to East Rankin.
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