February 25, 2018 2:09:30 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
By Amber Dodd
Special to The Dispatch
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville High School boys basketball team earned its second trip to Jackson in five years Saturday by defeating Warren Central 62-43 in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A State tournament.
Starkville will take on Harrison Central, which defeated Ocean Springs 60-45, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi Coliseum.
"We struggled a little," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "Our offense was a little stagnant. It wasn't quite a sharp. We got going a little in the second quarter, but we were at full speed in the second half."
Defensive stops turned into 3-pointers on the other end for the Yellow Jackets. The turnovers and fouls kept Warren Central in the game, but the momentum shifted once Starkville began playing its pace.
Assistant coaches wore dandelion yellow shirts with "DEFEND AND REBOUND" in bold, black print. Starkville started implementing its slogan as the game began to turn. It's not just a saying, moreso a lifestyle for Carter and the Yellow Jackets.
"It's what we proud ourselves on," Carter said. "Hopefully we can take that to Jackson."
Jordan Temple's half-court defense kept the Vikings from finding options. In past four games, Temple has been the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer. He knew the importance of getting other players in their rhythm to shake up their expected guard play.
"It helped a lot," Temple said. "Just knowing we're all going to make good shots helps."
Starkville hit six 3-pointers and complemented that with solid inside work to take a 32-18 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets will look to add onto their championship banner for the first time since 2015. With three guards in the double digits, Carter said offense will be a key in the Coliseum.
"Our guards have got to play well," Carter said. "We've got to defend better and shoot the three."
Blake Rogers, who had a team-high 21 points, said Starkville's ability to hit from the perimeter with multiple players forces opponents to make some key decisions.
"When teams focus in on me other players like Jordan and the other guys can get some shots, too," Rogers said. "Other players will be able to take the shots, which helps us out a lot."
Temple added 12 points, while Tyler Talley added 10.
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