STARKVILLE — It was the Jacolby Mobley show Tuesday night at Starkville High School.
The senior guard fired from anywhere beyond the 3-point line and scored a career-high 35 points in a dominating 91-64 home victory against Aberdeen.
During a two-minute stretch in the opening quarter, Mobley scored 13 points, including four 3-pointers mostly with a defender’s hand in his face. During that stretch, Starkville turned a one-point lead into a 13-point advantage at the end of the first eight minutes.
“When it’s like that, I don’t think I can be stopped, (especially) when I’m feeling like that,” Mobley said. “I just zone out.”
Mobley had the Starkeville High crowd in a frenzy by hitting eight 3-pointers. He even had coach Greg Carter shaking his head at his 25-point first-half performance.
“Once he got on a roll, he was just dropping (shots),” Carter said. “It was good to watch.”
Starkville (14-2) was more than willing to play the 94-feet, fast-paced style Aberdeen has employed all season. The Yellow Jackets will face a different philosophy Friday when Yazoo City visits Starkville.
“To win a championship, you have to play both ways because you’re going to see both styles along the way,” Carter said. “Yazoo City plays the polar opposite of Aberdeen. The final score over/under may not get over 60.”
Starkville was without senior Gavin Ware, a Mississippi State signee, who was made inactive for the contest, but Carter said the 6-foot-8 center will be available to play Friday. Carter said the victory against Aberdeen helped his squad prove it could handle playing without Ware after it failed to raise the championship trophy last year without Ware, who missed the playoffs with an injury.
“It helps a lot to know that with one piece missing everything will flow like it’s supposed to,” Carter said. “You never know who you’ll be with or without. You can’t put that responsibility on one guy. All Gavin does for us, one person can’t do it.”
Junior forward Tory Rice had 18 rebounds and exposed the Bulldogs’ lack of size and inability to clean up the defensive glass. Aberdeen was forced to go to a smaller lineup after senior forward Elliot Johnson injured his right leg.
“I just wanted to show up and play well,” Mobley said. “I figured we would all step up and play. I just tried to bring my ‘A’ game.”
Johnson, who came in averaging seven points and eight rebounds per game, was seen with a large ice bag on his right knee cheering on the Aberdeen bench for the final three quarters.
“Once (he) went down for us I thought air went completely out of this team,” said Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle, whose team slipped to 13-4. “We were a step slow and a second off of where we were supposed to be.”
Junior guard Steven Brand added 19 points by cutting through the Aberdeen defense for easy layups. The 94 points were the most the Bulldogs have allowed this season, and was a disappointment to Bulldogs coaching staff.
“Once we figured out something, somebody else for them stepped up,” Hazzle said. “I don’t know what to do with (Mobley) because I’ve seen the great ones shoot it like that. If you play him up close, he’s quick enough to just go by you as well.”
Aberdeen will play host to Water Valley on Jan. 17.
Starkville (G) 64,
Starkville High coach Kristie Williams coached two teams Tuesday night.
The one in the first half was out of sync and rusty in its first game back from Christmas break. The squad that came out in the second half pushed the defensive tempo, got easy baskets, and brought a smile to Williams’ face.
“I figured we would struggled a bit,” Williams said. “They settled down and we’re better than we were showing. We finally turned up the juices.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets struggled with turnovers in the first half and then lost leading scorer Brittany Brown to early foul trouble. Sophomore power forward Imane Montgomery kept Starkville in a position to strike, scoring 10 points in the second quarter to keep the score tied at 29 at halftime. The 5-foot-8 forward finished with a team-high 15 points.
“She’s a sophomore that’s really grown up this season,” Williams said. “The potential for her is going to be great. She has the ability to take those big shots when we need her to.”
Brown scored eight of her 11 points in the second half to lead the inside-out combination. Starkville (8-7) used a 13-1 scoring run that included Brown’s steal and layup followed by a open jumper on the next possession in the third quarter to pull away from Aberdeen (3-9).
“(Brown) was kind of frustrated because it’s just hard for her to watch,” Williams said. “We need her in every game.”
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