Choctaw Central’s Kyarrah Grant puts up a shot on Saturday against Starkville at Neshoba Central.
Choctaw Central’s Kyarrah Grant puts up a shot on Saturday against Starkville at Neshoba Central.
The Choctaw Central Lady Warriors missed their first 10 shots on goal but held on to defeat Starkville 56-52 Saturday during the Neshoba Central prep basketball classic.

It was a clash of defending state champions. Starkville won the Class 6A girls state championship back in March while Choctaw Central claimed the Class 3A crown. In the latest state poll, the Lady Yellow Jackets were ranked No. 1 while Choctaw Central was fourth.

Choctaw Central improved to 5-0 on the young season while Starkville dropped to 4-1. Interestingly, the two teams met in the Neshoba Central Classic last year with Starkville scoring a late basket to win 50-49.

“It was a hard-fought game and a good test for us,” Coach Bill Smith said. “We beat the No. 1 team in the state and I was proud of the effort.”

The Lady Warriors did not score a field goal in the first period and trailed 12-4 at the break, thanks to four free throws.

While the shooting was cold, the Lady Warriors’ hustle on defense and full-court press kept them within reach of the lead throughout the game.

“The last time we shot that cold was when we lost to Forest last year,” Smith said. “But they only played seven players and we were able to wear them down over four quarters.”

 Kaedre Denson sank the first Lady Warrior basket with 7:09 left in the second quarter and Darien Tubby added another with 6:05 remaining to make it 13-10. Around the two minute mark, Smith put in his second group and rested the starters while they finished the quarter. Starkville held the Lady Warriors off from that point and led 25-19 at the half.

Starkville hit a three-point shot early into the third quarter to go up 28-19. Then the Lady Warriors scored seven points to Starkville’s two and pulled within four – 30-26 with 2:36 left in the third quarter. The Lady Warriors kept chipping away at the lead and Kyannah Grant sank a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left in the period to make it a two-point game, 34-32.

Grant would sink two more free throws with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 40-40. The teams exchanged field goals. Then Denson hit a field goal and added a free throw to put her team up 45-42 with 1:59 left in the game.

Starkville’s Jalisa Outlaw scored with 34 seconds left in the game and the score stood at 46-46 when regulation expired.

Denson, Lachrisha Williams and Tubby all scored a field goal to put the Lady Warriors up 52-46 with 2:05 left in overtime. Starkville fought back and Tabreea Gandy hit a three-point shot with 11 seconds remaining to make it 54-52. But then Kyarrah Grant hit a pair of free throws and the Lady Warriors held on for the win.

Denson was the leading scorer for the Lady Warriors with 18 points.

Earlier in the week, the Lady Warriors cruised past Leake Central 60-38. Choctaw Central led 38-18 at the half. Meloney Thames scored 12 to lead the Lady Warriors while Williams and Kyarrah Grant both scored nine points.



Brias Bell scored 14 points, and Quentin

Anderson and Lee Willis both added 10 points to lead the Choctaw Central boys to a 70-51 win over Noxubee County in the Saturday classic.

The Warriors led 30-27 at the half. The Warriors pulled away in the third quarter as they improved to 3-2 on the season.

In a game played earlier in the week, the Warriors lost a 65-64 decision to Leake Central. Dillon Farmer led with 21 points and Gerald Isom scored 10.

The Warrior teams will play in the East Central Community College Classic next week.