By Blake Long/Special to the Chickasaw Journal
BOONEVILLE – Starkville’s defense shut Deonta Herman down in nearly all of Tuesday night’s contest at Booneville High School.
The key word in that: nearly.
On the last play of the game, Herman took the ball the length of the court and laid the ball into basket as time expired to propel Corinth to a 52-50 win over the Yellowjackets in the Booneville Kiwanis Club Tournament.
“I didn’t want to go into overtime,” Herman said, “They let up too easy and I went down and scored.”
“They did a good job of not giving him what I call a great look,” said Corinth coach Keith Greene, “They made him take some bad shots, but we’re deeper than people think.”
Trailing 41-39 entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors took the lead using a 9-4 run, which included holding Starkville scoreless for nearly three and a half minutes during the quarter.
Up 48-45, Corinth (11-2) had a chance to seal the victory with free throws in the bonus. But the Warriors only hit two-of-six free throws in that stretch to open the door for Starkville to comeback.
Mike Brand cut Corinth’s lead to 50-48 with a three-point basket with eighteen seconds on the clock.
Then following a Yellowjacket timeout and a walking violation on the Warriors, Starkville’s Jaquez Johnson tied the game on a layup with 5.4 seconds remaining, setting up Herman’s game-winning shot.
Starkville (10-2) led the entire first half, including outscoring the Warriors 14-5 in the first quarter, and held a narrow 26-25 lead at halftime.
The second half featured seven lead changes and five ties. Corinth took its first lead with 6:05 remaining in the third on a layup by Steven Polk.
Starkville, which led 41-39 after three, lost its lead for good with 5:13 remaining in the game when two free throws by Deione Weeks gave Corinth a 44-43 lead on their way to its first-ever win over a Class 6A school.
“This game will be good for us in the long run, because it will keep us level headed,” said Starkville coach Greg Carter, “It didn’t seem like we played with much motivation today.”
Herman scored a game-high 14 points and was the only double-digit scorer for the Warriors. Brand and Gavin Ware scored 12 apiece to lead Starkville.
(B) Kossuth 49, Pine Grove 45: Kossuth’s Justin Whitaker scored 16 points to lead the Aggies (3-11) to victory. Austin Hopper led Pine Grove (6-11) with 13 points.
(G) Kossuth 59, Nettleton 43: Odyssey McGaha had over half of the points for Kossuth (9-5), totaling 30 on the night. Camry Jones scored 30 of Nettleton’s (9-5) 43 points.
(B) Booneville 69, Nettleton 45: Booneville (11-3) never trailed in taking down Nettleton (6-8). The Blue Devils were led by Keldrick Lesley’s 25 points, while Odarius Lowe led the Tigers with 15.