The Greenville High School Honeybees eliminated the Columbus Falcons 45-40 in North 6A girls playoff basketball on Monday.
Greenville senior guard Mary Starnes came up clutch in the closing minute of the game. First, she grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a length of the court outlet pass to senior center Clarkajua Warren to put the Honeybees up 41-40. Shortly thereafter, she made a big block shot, secured the wayward ball for a steal, raced the length of the court and pump faked a Falcons defender before scoring a layup. On a night where the Honeybees struggled offensively, timely shooting and scrappy play allowed them to pulled off the slim victory.
“The one thing that I really like about this team is that they never quit,” said Honeybees Head Coach Dakedreon Lampkin. “They played until the final buzzer sounded.”
Junior guard Aaliyah Parker grabbed a loose ball and converted a short bank shot to pulled the Honeybees to 34-31 with 4:11 remaining in the game. The play breathed life back into the home crowd.
On the ensuing series, junior guard Jeanee Anderson made a three pointer from the wing to tie the score at 34. The teams exchanged leads six times down the stretch.
During an exchange in the third quarter, momentum swung from one side of the gym to the other. Falcons guard Hannah White drained a three pointer and scored a layup on back to back possessions to push the visiting team out to a commanding 30-19 lead at the five-minute mark.
“They are a very good team,” Lampkin said. “They’re long and athletic and we didn’t figure out how to handle them on offense until the fourth quarter. We kept trying to pass through their zone instead of moving the ball waiting for lanes to open up.”
The Honeybees stormed back to close the gap to 32-26 at the end of the third quarter behind the long range shooting of senior guard Mary Starnes setting the stage for a fantastic finish.
Nervous energy was palpable in the early going.
The Honeybees had trouble scoring against the Falcons zone defense and when opportunities presented themselves to score in transition, the Hornets airmailed three passes that would have been easy layups. Warren asserted herself early on the interior by grabbing three offensive rebounds and scoring six points in the paint.
The Honeybees took the lead on the final shot of the first quarter when Parker in her usual herky jerky shooting motion made a three pointer that rattled around every part of the rim before going down. Grernville led 11-10 after one quarter.
Turnovers plagued the Honeybees in the second as they continued to overcome the Falcons zone.
Off four home-team miscues and offensive rebounding, Columbus opened the second quarter on a 14-4 run to extend to a 24-15 lead with 1:20 remaining in the first half. Anderson knocked down a three pointer and made a strong drive drawing a foul. She knocked down one of two free throws to get the Honeybees to within a 24-19 margin at the half. The four point swing seemed to swing the momentum towards Greenville. Warren and Starnes led Greenville with 12 each. Greenville will host Horn Lake Thursday.