Following a successful break, Starr’s Mill falls to second ranked Fayette County


Shelby Foster

Junior Panther Reese Clevinger sizes up a Fayette County defender. After going 4-1 over the holiday break, Starr’s Mill returned to region action against the Tigers. Fayette County, one of the top teams in the state, pulled away late for a 57-46 win over the Mill.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

Starr’s Mill played in multiple venues over the holiday break, winning four of the five games they played.

The break started at the Lakepoint Invitational Classic, where the Panthers defeated Holy Innocents Episcopal 66-57. Their next game was in the War Eagle Classic at Woodward Academy, and the Mill, led by junior Jamaine Mann’s 21 points, beat Mary Persons 61-47.

Shelby Foster
Junior Jamaine Mann boxes out senior Tiger Ricky Knight Jr. Mann, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game this season, only managed to grab four rebounds in the loss to Fayette County. Senior Nate Allison, however, cleaned the glass and gathered 12 rebounds for Starr’s Mill.

Their last three games were in the Dwight Madison Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. First, they knocked off Midfield 69-62, then beat Carver 55-54 in the second round. The win placed them in the championship game against Pinson Valley, a top-20 team in Alabama, according to Despite 20 points from Mann and a double-double from senior Nate Allison, Starr’s Mill fell to the Indians 60-47.

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know how to fight,” head coach Charlemagne Gibbons said. “Now we’re fighting. Now we have to learn how to win.”

Coming off of a great break, the Panthers had a perfect opportunity to prove themselves in a matchup against Fayette County, the No. 2 AAAAA team in the state according to They played them close for three quarters, but the Tigers pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 57-46 win.

Mann struggled against the Tigers, shooting 6-of-14 from the field. He finished with 13 points and four rebounds in the region matchup. Allison notched a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Tigers.

For Fayette County, seniors Terrell Bradley and Joshua Dupree each scored 14 points. Senior Ricky Knight Jr. added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the three-point line. The Tigers outscored Starr’s Mill 37-21 in the second half to run away with an 11-point victory.

“Rebounding is a big emphasis for our team,” Allison said. “Especially after giving up 18 offensive rebounds against Fayette County.”

The first quarter was very physical and defensive, with each side struggling to score. The Panthers battled turnovers, but Fayette County couldn’t convert. Both teams missed easy looks from all over the court, and the period ended at 12-7 in favor of the Tigers.

The second quarter went much differently for the Mill. Mann found easy baskets on inside looks and the Panthers gained momentum. They moved the ball and looked for easy layups, finding Allison and Mann down low on more than a few occasions. They outscored Fayette County 18-8 in the quarter, and Starr’s Mill led 25-20 at halftime.

“We didn’t make layups,” Gibbons said. “We didn’t shoot well tonight.”

The Tigers used the third quarter to cut into the Panther lead. Their full-court press bothered the Mill and forced turnovers, and they started to make more shots to close the gap. Starr’s Mill also got into foul trouble helping the Tigers find free points at the charity stripe. Going into the final quarter, Fayette County led 36-35.

In the final quarter, the Tigers separated themselves with hot shooting from Knight Jr. and others. Starr’s Mill couldn’t get any easy looks on offense, and their jump shots weren’t falling. As the clock wound down, the Panthers couldn’t put together a last minute run to bring themselves back into the game. Fayette County closed out the Mill and captured a 57-46 victory.

“They were a good team to play against,” Mann said. “We’ve played tougher teams than them, but we weren’t in game mode.”

Fayette County is now 15-2 on the season and 5-0 in region play. Up next for them is a 9-8 Whitewater team looking to pull off an upset. The game is at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Fayette County.

Starr’s Mill, now 7-9 overall and 2-2 in the region, has fallen into the fourth spot in Region 3-AAAAA. Their next contest is against a 5-9 Riverdale team that is yet to win a region game. The Raiders will look to play spoiler against the Mill, and hand them their second consecutive loss. Mann, averaging 18.1 points per game, and the Panthers will try to bounce back from their previous loss.

On the girls’ side, they defeated the Lady Tigers (6-11, 3-2) 51-33 to improve to 11-4 on the year and 4-0 in the region. Junior Alice Anne Hudson had 20 points for the Lady Panthers, leaving her just eight points away from 1,000 in her career.

The matchups are at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Riverdale High School.

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