By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Rashad Perkins got things going before running mate Edward Townsel and the rest of the Starkville High Yellowjackets joined him in front of some 1,100 fans at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Perkins was all over the floor in the first half, scoring eight points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking five shots in an impressive 66-51 victory over Biloxi in Wednesday afternoon’s MHSAA Class 6A state semifinal. The senior Southern Miss commitment finished with a game-high 21 points, 14 rebounds and 13 blocks.
Starkville (28-2) plays Meridian for the 6A title on Saturday.
Townsel scored 10 straight of his team’s points in the third quarter and the Yellowjackets would outscore the Indians 39-20 in the final two periods. “When he gets going, it makes it easy for everybody else,” Starkville coach Greg Carter said of Townsel.
And boy, were Carter and Co. thankful that Townsel was there in the third quarter to lead the comeback after trailing 31-27 at the half.
Townsel picked up two fouls and had to sit on the bench for most of the second quarter.
The Yellowjackets led 7-0 to start the game, but fell behind 27-16 less than three minutes into the second period.
“It was tough pulling him and sitting him because we were struggling,” Carter said. “Then he comes in the third quarter and he was a little over anxious with that first shot he took in the third quarter.
“But after that, he was good.”
With Carter utilizing reserve players who play hard all the time – such as Brandon Johnson – and a 1-3-1 half-court trap, Biloxi would struggle some and Starkville would climb back into the game in the final four minutes of the first half.
After the intermission, the Yellowjackets went on a 11-5 run to take a 38-36 lead – and never look back – before the midway point of the third quarter.
Biloxi’s top scorer, Jeremiah Dunnings, was held to eight points on 3 of 18 shooting from the floor.
Carter said he “had to give all the credit in the world” to junior guard Jaquez Johnson for limiting Dunnings to nearly 10 points below his season average.
“He played him for most of the game,” the Starkville coach said. “He pushed him around a little bit. He chased him all over the court.”
A 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter – as the Indians had switched to a man-to-man defense by that point – ended the season for Biloxi (27-4).