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Jaden Tate's big night sends Starkville past Clinton 61-56 in battle of Region 2 heavyweights

The Jackets moved to 3-0 in the Region with the big win on the road

CLINTON — Starkville’s Jaden Tate picked the right game to have a the best game of his young career.

Tate poured in a career-high and game-high 28 points to help lead the Yellowjackets past Clinton 61-56 in a key Region 2-7A matchup on Tuesday night.

“This team is growing up right before our eyes, and at the right time,” said Starkville coach Woody Howard. “Jaden started making shots early and once he gets a shot to go in his confidence builds up and from that point he feels like he can make any shot.”

The first half was back-and-forth, but Clinton (13-3, 1-2 in 2-7A) never trailed as the Arrows held a 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and 26-23 advantage at halftime.

To begin the third quarter, the Arrows went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead to 35-25, but Starkville (11-8, 3-0) answered with a 15-4 run that was highlighted by a Tate three-pointer with 2:52 remaining to give the Yellowjackets their first lead of the game at 40-39.

The third quarter ended tied 43-43.

In the fourth, the two teams traded baskets back-and-forth and there were four lead changes.

With the game knotted 52-52 with just under a minute remaining, Starkville’s David Washington drew fouls on back-to-back possessions and made all four free throws to give the Jackets a 56-52 lead with 1:37 remaining.

Tate's lay-up with 56 seconds left gave Starkville a 58-53 lead and the Jackets closed the game out from that point.

“Everybody expected us to lose," Tate said. "We started the game off by turning the ball over and got in a hole down by 10, but we picked it back up and kept running, and shots started falling. I knew they couldn’t guard me off the dribble, so I was getting off the dribble and laying the ball and hitting three’s. This is a big win for us on the road.”

David Washington added 16 points for Starkville, while Jerwan McCarter added 10 points for the Yellowjackets.

“Earlier in the year we weren’t making plays late in the game when we needed too and we weren’t getting stops on defense," Howard said. "But now we are. This is a big win for us, to bring a young inexperienced team here and get a win against a tough well-coached team is huge. Now we’re 3-0 in district and in first place.”

Trey Alexander had 26 points to lead Clinton (13-3, 1-2). The Arrows have now dropped two district games at home.

“We came out on fire to begin the third quarter and then we eased up and before we even know it we were down and defensively we didn’t stick with it and they got going and got momentum,” said Clinton coach Leonard Taylor. “It was a up hill battle for us for the rest of the game, but we will learn from it and get better and bounce back on Friday.”