STARKVILLE – Aberdeen didn’t really have to make a statement to prove its worth.
The Bulldogs did it anyway.
No. 6 Aberdeen took down the state’s top-ranked team, Starkville, 51-50 on Thursday night.
“It was a big win,” Aberdeen coach Cornelius Gilleylen said. “At the same time, it’s not one of the games that’s going to determine what’s going to happen. We can’t live on it. I told them, ‘Just enjoy it for tonight.’”
A battle of title contenders, Class 3A Aberdeen held that margin when 6A Starkville’s Dontavius Self stole an inbounds pass with 11 seconds to play. Aberdeen forced Fontavious Smith into an arching 3-pointer that clanked off the rim as the horn sounded.
It’s not Aberdeen’s ultimate prize, but a signature for the team and its first-year head coach, over MaxPreps’ No. 1 overall team in Mississippi.
“We started flat and our mindset was not where it should have been from the get-go,” Starkville coach Greg Carter said.
The Bulldogs (17-7) slowed the pace of what could have been a track meet. Marcus Carouthers scored 16, Derell Carouthers 10. For Starkville (19-3), Self had 13, Zeb Rice 11.
The Bulldogs trailed 42-36 in the third period and by five in the fourth on a pair of free throws from Rice. But a 10-2 run was enough to hang onto in a back-and-forth match.
The Bulldogs went ahead on a technical foul after a foul.
Tylan McMillian and Marcus Carouthers each made one of their two free shots for a 49-48 lead. McMillian also had a key block with a 49-48 lead lead and his two free throws with 26.8 seconds to play put his team ahead 51-48.
Self hit a pair of free throws before the stolen inbounds.
“We executed,” said Aberdeen senior Sammie Burroughs. “We both are fast-paced teams. We’ve got to take their weakness and use it as our strength.”
(G) Starkville 53, Aberdeen 15: Imane Montgomery and Kelsey Jones scored 12 each for Starkville.
Aundrea Robinson scored 9 for Aberdeen.