Falcons rally late to beat Jackets
COLUMBUS — It appeared for three quarters that Starkville High was playing spoiler on Columbus senior Robert Woodard's big night.
The talented small forward came out to mid court pre-game with his teammates and announced his intentions to play basketball for Mississippi State next season.
SHS controlled the game from there with a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Woodard and his teammates turned it on in the final minutes of the game erasing that lead and hitting two free throws in the final seconds to steal one from the Jackets 64-62.
“Fourth quarter we went in the tank,” SHS head coach Greg Carter said. “We gave up way too many transition points and too many free throws and we missed crucial 1-and-1's.”
After leading 16-13 after the first quarter, the Jackets carried a 16-2 run through the second with a barrage of three pointers from Blake Rogers and Tyler Talley to jump out to a 25-15 lead. They would close the half with back-to-back long made shots from those two players and were up 36-23 at the half.
It was much of the same in the third quarter as SHS held steady with a 56-44 lead after three quarters, but then the pressure got to the young guards.
Columbus started to chip away at the lead cutting it to 59-55 with over 4 minutes left. With 1:45 remaining, an emphatic dunk had the game tied at 62 and the Falcons had all of the momentum.
The Jackets made a crucial reach in foul with 3.7 seconds left sending Columbus to the line and two free throws sealed it giving the Falcons the win.
The length of the Falcon front court that included Woodard seemed to cause trouble in the final quarter on the smaller SHS team.
“It may have hurt us in the fourth, but we didn't attack in the fourth like we did in the first three quarters,” Carter said. “When they came out and pressured us, we retreated rather than attack.”
The Jackets were led by Talley's 16 points though he managed just one point in the second half. Rogers finished with 15 points and hit five three pointers.
SHS (1-2) will continue their season on Thursday night when it hosts West Point.
Girls Game Starkville 46, Columbus 27
The Lady Jackets are in the middle of defending their Class 6A state championship and off to a 3-0 start with the championship trophy in their possession.
It might not have looked the part to open the first quarter as SHS and Columbus both struggled to score points and neither team made a field goal until the 2:19 mark in the first quarter. The Lady Falcons had a 11-6 lead to end the first stanza, but that wouldn't last long.
“We were just able to understand that when we can't score, our defensive pressure will help us out,” Lady Jacket head coach Kristie Williams said. “We're in our third game and we're coming out of the gates too slow. You can't get back to Jackson playing three quarters. Every team is gunning for us and we've got to be able to step it up from start to finish.”
The shots suddenly began to fall as SHS went on a 20-1 run to end the first half and took a 26-14 lead.
Jariyah Covington led all scorers with 17 points in the game and Tabreea Gandy had 14. Those are two three-year starters that Williams is relying heavily on this season to bring her team through.
“We have a good chance to do some really good things,” Williams said. “We're going to rely on the experience of our guards and hopefully our post play will get more comfortable and we'll be able to balance it out each game. I'm excited about this team.”