Prep basketball: Starkville Academy boys pull away from Columbus Christian Academy in fourth quarter


Theo DeRosa



STEENS -- With just under a minute left, Lawson Studdard hoisted up a deep 3-pointer from the left wing.


The Columbus Christian Academy senior guard, who had dominated through three quarters of Thursday's home game against Starkville Academy, found himself and the Rams struggling in the fourth. The contest was tied at 38-all heading into the fourth quarter, but Columbus Christian trailed 53-41 when Studdard tried the long-distance jumper. It barely grazed the bottom of the net. Studdard turned away, disgusted, but Rams coach Jason Williams caught him.


"Keep shooting," Williams told Studdard. "Keep shooting."



Studdard did -- he sank a 3-ball with seven seconds to go -- but for Columbus Christian, it was too late. The Volunteers (5-1) handed the Rams (3-1) their first loss of the season, 56-47.


"It was just one of those nights where shots weren't falling," Williams said.


They fell for 24 minutes for Studdard and Columbus Christian, but the basket appeared sealed for the Rams down the stretch. A free throw from Studdard and a runner from Dakota Shaw were the team's only three points until the game's final minute.


Meanwhile, the Vols swarmed the paint and scored at will. Starkville Academy junior Jawon Yarbrough continually victimized the Rams, getting the ball in the post and scoring seven points in the quarter.


"They've got a good player, but we should have stayed in front of him," Studdard said of Yarbrough.


The Rams couldn't seem to do that well throughout Thursday's game, and Starkville Academy coach Bill Ball took advantage.


"You could tell that we went to the post late and every time down for a stretch there in the game," Ball said.


In fact, the Volunteers only made one shot outside the paint all night. Randall Futral banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a second left in the first half.


"You win some, you lose some on those kinds of shots," Williams said. "The kid made it."


Futral's basket gave Starkville Academy a one-point lead heading into halftime, and the Rams and Vols came out of the third quarter tied.


Then Starkville Academy switched its primary defender on Studdard and tightened its defense. The goal, Ball said, was to limit Studdard's touches, and he ensured the Vols wouldn't help other defenders if it meant losing sight of Studdard. The senior finished with 28 points, but only six came in the fourth quarter.


"He's playing hard on both sides of the ball," Williams said of Studdard. "Everybody is really giving me that kind of effort."


Shaw scored seven points, and junior Jonathan Peal battled through shin splints to score five. Senior big man Will Teague missed the game to play in Friday's MAIS All-Star game, and his presence up front was missed.


For the Volunteers, Yarbrough led the way with 20 points, and George Delp and Reese Jackson each scored eight.


And even after an impressive road win, Ball knows his team can still improve.


"Hopefully we can take a lot of lessons from this," he said. "Usually we get those lessons from losses, and I think we are able to learn a lot, see some glaring things that we need to work on and feel very fortunate that we were able to come out of here with a win."


Starkville Academy girls 56, Columbus Christian Academy 47


STEENS -- Caroline Wood had 18 points to lead the Starkville Academy girls team to a 56-45 win over Columbus Christian Academy on Thursday in Steens.


Meri Laci Archer scored 12 points off the bench for the Lady Volunteers (7-2), and Lillee Alpe added 11.


For Columbus Christian (2-2), senior Kylie Emerson had 19 points. Cayden Harding scored eight, and Audrey Forman scored six.


The Rams will play a boys/girls doubleheader at Oak Hill Academy on Monday in West Point, and the Vols will play a doubleheader with Pillow Academy on Saturday in Greenwood.



Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.


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