The Starkville High School boys basketball came up with one more big play with the game on the line.
The result could have been a statement of even better things to come.
Rashad Perkins blocked a shot in the lane by Jalen Courtney with 5.5 seconds remaining to preserve a one-point lead and then made a steal on the ensuing play to help Starkville hold on to beat previously unbeaten and No. 1 Provine 81-79 on Saturday in the final game of the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
Perkins (16 points), a Southern Miss signee, soared in the lane to bat away what appeared to be a sure two points by Courtney from three feet away. The Provine bench pleaded for a goaltending call, to no avail, and then watched helplessly as Perkins made a steal and then passed the ball to Craig Armstead, who was fouled. Armstead hit the first free throw and then intentionally missed the second. He was called for a lane violation, but Edward Townsel (21 points) made another steal on the inbounds pass to help seal the win for the Yellow Jackets (10-0).
In the game leading up to the finale, Marcell Moseley had a game-high 27 points to lead Marion, Ark. (10-1) to a 58-49 victory against Columbus.
Marion, Ark., outscored Columbus (7-7) 20-1 in the second quarter to take a 39-20 halftime lead.
The Falcons cut the deficit to six, 43-37, with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, but couldn”t get any closer.
Michael Hall led Columbus with 16 points, while Herman Roberts and Akeem Toppin each had 11.
In the marquee girls matchup of the day, Greenville-Weston, the No. 2 in the Clarion Ledger Super 10 poll, rebounded from a home district loss to Vicksburg on Friday night to beat Raymond, the No. 1 team in the Super 10, 56-50.
University of Mississippi signee Breanna Lewis (30 points) outdueled Valencia McFarland, who also signed with Ole Miss. McFarland had 25 points, including a 3-pointer from halfcourt at the end of the third quarter that tied the game at 40.
Shameika Jackson (12 points) scored off an offensive rebound putback to open the fourth quarter and give Greenville-Weston the lead for good.
Janairrika Bland, a Southern Miss signee, had 14 for Raymond.
n Columbus 75, Raymond 58 (B): On Friday, the Falcons found themselves down 28-25 at halftime, but rallied for an impressive victory on the first day of the Joe Horne Christmas Classic.
A basket and free throw by Quaylan Fulgham gave Columbus a 36-35 lead with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
After leading 44-42 at the end of the quarter, the Falcons stretched their advantage throughout the final eight minutes and outscored Raymond 31-16 to pull away.
“We kept our composure and started executing,” Columbus coach Sammy Smith said. “It was good to see since we haven”t played in a week. I thought the guys fought through my mistakes as a coach and the fans did a good job of pushing us through it.”
Michael Hall had 22 points for Columbus, while Akeem Toppin added 18, Herman Roberts scored 12, and Fulgham had 10.
Raymond”s Tradarrius McPherson had a game-high 23 points.
n Starkville 69, Tuscaloosa Central 36 (B): On Friday, Rashad Perkins began the game off with an impressive dunk for the Yellow Jackets and the result was never in doubt.
An alley-oop pass from Edward Townsel to Perkins closed a first quarter that saw Starkville take a 27-7 advantage. The Yellow Jackets stretched the margin out to 43-14 by halftime.
“We really played well from the beginning,” Starkville coach Greg Carter said. “We were able to get the ball to the basket and finish. We really got out in transition. I thought we really guarded them well.”
Harris scored 12 points and Craig Armstead had 10 points as the only Yellow Jackets in double figures.
Keivondre Watford led Tuscalooa Central with 14 points.
Assistant sports editor Danny P. Smith contributed to this report.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.