By Paul Jones
STARKVILLE – It took Starkville’s Edward Townsel about nine minutes to get going Tuesday night. But once he started feeling his shot, Grenada had no answer for the senior guard.
Townsel scored 20 of his 26 points in the second quarter to help Starkville capture a 79-74 victory in the opening round of the Class 6A North Mississippi tournament.
With the win, the Yellowjackets (25-2) advanced to Friday’s semifinals and will host either Olive Branch or Vicksburg.
“I was feeling good from the jump but Grenada was zoning pretty good and denying me the ball,” Townsel said. “But then I started moving around and I got open. I didn’t know how many I had and I wasn’t even counting. I was just hitting open shots.”
Townsel’s performance did not surprise his coach, who noted he’s seen those offensive fireworks over the last couple of weeks.
“The last two or three games he’s really heated it up,” said Starkville coach Greg Carter. “He was a little slow starting out but once he got going, he really got going. He became a hard guy to guard in that second quarter.”
Grenada (18-9) jumped on Starkville midway through the first quarter and held a 26-16 advantage heading into the second quarter. The visiting Chargers upped their lead to 30-18 early in the second period, only to see Townsel catch fire.
The ’Jackets ended the second period on a 26-4 run, including four treys by Townsel, and led 44-34 at the break.
“It was tough because they were zoning and making us shoot outside shots,” said Carter. “We started the game making them, but then we got cold. But our biggest thing was our defense. Grenada can make shots and they did that the first time we played them.
“But we stepped our defense up about the last five minutes of the second quarter. That turned the whole game around once we got steals and got out running. That got us in a rhythm.”
Senior forward and Southern Miss signee Rashad Perkins had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Starkville while junior Jaquez Johnson added 11.
Alex Poole led the Chargers with 20 points.