By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – Sharp-shooting Starkville closed the regular season with its second win against one of Class 3A’s best, 72-56 Friday night in Aberdeen at Roy E. Hazzle Gymnasium.
The Jackets, ranked No. 5 in the Clarion Ledger’s Super 10 and third in Class 5A, got a balanced attack from its multitude of sources.
Four Jackets reached double figures. Jacolby Mobley scored a game-high 19 points and Mississippi State-commit Gavin Ware followed with 18 to lead the way.
“We got it down in and they blocked shots and bumped us around. We were just out-manned tonight,” Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said. “The kids gave a great effort and we played a great team.”
Ware had four slams in the opening half, two off alley-oops. Starkville maintained a double-digit lead in the second half that went to 22 points in the final quarter.
Starkville (22-3) led 43-35 at halftime, slowly pulling away in the second quarter thanks to some pressure-forced steals. On back-to-back turnovers, the Jackets got a 3-pointer from Mobley and Mike Brand capitalized on a following steal with an alley-oop to Ware for a 33-20 lead.
The Bulldogs trailed by 14 before a 10-2 run was capped by Brandon Hodges’ lay-in and trimmed the lead by the half.
“It was an intense game,” Ware said. “They had the crowd on their side and played very good. After a while our endurance lasted a little longer and we just started hustling more.”
Starkville, which beat Aberdeen 94-61 in the first meeting in January, got 15 points from Steve Brand and 10 from Tori Rice.
Shedrick Fair led Aberdeen with 16. Jakeese Walker added 12 and Kenric McCoy 10.
“We continued not only to turn it over, they shot the ball well in the second half, just as well as they did in the first half,” said Hazzle. “We played hard. We couldn’t defend a two-headed monster.”
Aberdeen (22-5) will host the Division 2-3A tournament beginning Tuesday. The top-seed Bulldogs face either Water Valley or Mantachie Thursday.
(G) Starkville 60, Aberdeen 40: Brittany Brown scored a game-high 28 points to lead Starkville. Jacqueline Fair scored 12 points in the win as the Lady Jackets improved to 12-11 on the season. Aberdeen (6-17) got 19 from Alexius Walker and fell to on the season.