December 22, 2018 10:49:06 PM
Atavius Jones is back in "basketball shape."
High school football players usually take several weeks to condition to the court, and the transition wasn't lost on Jones, who played receiver for the Starkville High School football team this year.
But as a forward and lane enforcer for Starkville High's boys basketball team, Jones' output has increased in the last couple of weeks, including Saturday at the Joe Horne Christmas Classic at Columbus High.
Jones had 15 points, including 10 on offensive rebounds, in an 80-61 victory against Memphis Ridgeway. Jones registered his second straight double-double after Starkville (9-1) beat Pinson Valley (Alabama) on Friday night. Jones had 27 points to help the Yellow Jackets rally from a double-digit deficit in the first half.
"The big thing with him is getting in shape," said Quvarius Howard, Starkville assistant coach. "Once he gets in shape, he's able to play more minutes, get up and down and go to the boards hard each possession."
Jones was key in helping the Yellow Jackets rebuild their lead in the third after they saw a 20-point first-quarter advantage dwindle to five at halftime. Jones had five offensive rebounds in the third quarter and scored on four of them. Tyler Talley hit a 3-pointer on the other.
The Yellow Jackets pushed their lead back to double digits and cruised in the fourth quarter.
"They can't stop me in the paint," Jones said. "Nobody wanted to come match up on me."
Howard said Starkville elected to start two post players this week, pairing Zeke Cook and Jamareus Phillips against Pinson Valley, and Jones and Cook against Ridgeway. Howard said Phillips suffered a twisted ankle Friday and came off the bench Saturday.
The big lineup created more second-chance scoring opportunities for the Jackets, which frustrated the Ridgeway players, Howard said
"I think that took (them) out of it," he said.
Jones said playing primarily with two post players creates screen mismatches the Yellow Jackets can exploit.
"Either way, one of us will set the screen, and they don't know which one of us will set it," Jones said. "Then, one of our post players can go out and shoot."
Talley led Starkville with 24 points.
Terrence Burks led Ridgeway with 18 points.
n Starkville 54, Horn Lake 45: Three Starkville players scored in double figures, and the Lady Yellow Jackets staved off a late Horn Lake run to improve to 6-3.
Amaya Ford had 17, Jalisa Outlaw had 16, and Idalis Suell scored 10.
Starkville, which was coming off a victory at Tupelo on Dec. 15, raced out to an 18-3 lead early in the second quarter and led 30-19 at halftime. Outlaw paced the scoring in the third, including a late 3-pointer to give Starkville a 42-26 lead.
But Horn Lake forward Deresia Randle scored 11 of her team-high 15 points in the second half to cut Starkville's lead to 44-39 midway through the fourth quarter.
"We went to that 2-3 zone. They burned us a couple of times in it, but we knew we were outsized," Starkville coach Kristie Williams said. "(Randle) is a great post player, and we had to do everything we can to contain her. In most games, that's the way it's going to be, but our posts gave great effort in trying to push her out of the block and force her to have get out of her comfort zone."
Amira Strong scored four points in a late 10-6 run, and Outlaw iced the game with four free throws in the waning seconds.
"I tell them it's a game of runs," Williams said. "I knew Horn Lake would come out and give us everything they had; even when they're down, they're not out. Coach (Janet) Thompson is going to push them and get their best.
"I thought we were careless with the ball down the stretch, but even through that carelessness, we were able to regroup."