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Starkville ready for championship

By By Rocky Higginbotham/Special to The Star
Dec. 29, 2001
DECATUR The girls' finals are set in the fifth annual East Central Community College MPSA Christmas Tournament, and neither of the top seeds had much trouble reaching tonight's title tilt.
Top-seeded and fifth-ranked Starkville Academy coasted past Central Academy 67-32 in Friday night's late semifinal contest after second-seeded Leake Academy whipped Washington School 56-40 Friday afternoon.
Friday's other girls' contests at ECCC saw Indianola Academy eliminate Newton County Academy 43-25, while Kemper Academy bested Lamar School 57-33 in a losers' bracket game.
Today's girls' action begins at 1 p.m., when Kemper battles Indianola in the losers' bracket final. Washington School takes on Central Academy in the third-place game at 4 p.m., and Starkville Academy battles Leake at 7 p.m. at ECCC's Brackeen-Wood Gymnasium.
Starkville Academy 67
Central Academy 32
University of Southern Mississippi signee Ashley Johnson and her Lady Volunteer teammates jumped all over fifth-seeded Central, which had surprised Indianola in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Starkville Academy opened the game with a 10-0 run, and when Johnson nailed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left in the first quarter, the Lady Vols were up 17-3.
A 12-0 run in the second quarter made it 29-7, and Starkville's lead at halftime was 37-11.
Central's only mini-spurt of the contest came at the beginning of the second half, when Meagan Stokes nailed a 3-pointer and Leslie Hancock got a couple of quick baskets to bring CA within 19 and force Starkville coach Stephen Force into a quick timeout. His team responded with the next 12 points, and the contest was never close again.
In fact, Force pulled his starters with 2:45 still remaining in the third quarter. The 6-foot Johnson finished with 25 points, five rebounds and three steals in just 19 minutes of action, while Jessica Wall scored 16 points.
Starkville also got 10 points and nine steals from Parisa Toghiami, four assists and four steals from Ciji Garrard and six rebounds from Rachel Waldrop.
The Lady Vols improved to 17-2 by forcing Central into 41 turnovers. The Lady Vikings were led in scoring by Hancock, who had 13 points and six boards. Stokes finished with 11 rebounds as CA fell to 6-11.
Leake Academy 56
Washington School 40
The Rebelettes ran their record to 13-3 on the season and advanced to tonight's title game with the afternoon win over the Lady Generals.
Leake held Washington to just 5-of-29 shooting in the first half, doubling the Lady Generals 28-14 on the scoreboard.
After LA stretched its lead to as many as 17 in the third quarter, Washington scored the final six points of the period to pull within 38-28 but couldn't keep the momentum going in the final quarter.
Mary Claire Cadenhead led the Lady Generals with 12 points, while Kristin Bratton scored eight and Lane Fratesi seven. Washington is now 9-5.
Leake got a game-high 23 points from Kristin Caldwell, 14 from eighth-grader Greggina Tadlock and seven from B.J. Helton.
Kemper Academy 57
Lamar School 33
For the second straight day, 10 players scored for Kemper Academy as the Lady Rams continued to cruise through the losers' bracket.
Kemper, which is now 14-4 on the year, outscored Lamar in all four quarters, leading 15-7 after one and 29-15 at halftime.
Senior guard Jessica Harpole pumped in 13 for Kemper, while Kayla Mosley scored 11. Eve Darnell and Megan Whitaker chipped in eight points apiece and Leslie Beach scored six.
Libby Huff led Lamar with 19, while Myleia Shirley scored eight for the Lady Raiders, who fell to 3-11.
Indianola Academy 43
Newton Co. Academy 25
The Lady Colonels of Ed Waldrup also won the scoring battle in all four quarters, easing to 10-4 and 22-11 leads after the first two periods to improve to 9-13.
Indianola Academy got a game-high 18 points from Kassie Buck and 12 from Kimberly Crawford.
Andi Chesney led Newton County Academy with 13 points, while Casey McMahan was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line for her six points. The Lady Generals are now 4-12.