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Horn Lake avenges only loss with 43-42 win over Starkville in MHAA 6A Quarterfinals

Kylen Pernell hit the go-ahead layup with 24 seconds left

ITTA BENA — Horn Lake came into Friday night's MHSAA 6A Quarterfinal showdown with Starkville looking for payback.

And they got it.

Kylin Pernell hit a lay-up with 24 seconds left, and the Eagles held on to beat top-ranked Starkville 43-42 in a thriller at Mississippi Valley State on Friday night.

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Horn Lake (30-1) will play the Biloxi-Northwest Rankin winner in the Class 6A Semifinal Round at Mississippi Coliseum at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

Starkville gave Horn Lake their only loss of the season back on Dec. 29 in a 51-46 classic in the Hattiesburg Christmas Tournament.

“We just had to play defense like I know we could, and I was able to get a good look to make the bucket,” Pernell said. “The play was 'just go get a bucket' and that’s what I did, then we got a stop on defense to win the game. We owed them a whoopin' after they beat us last time.”

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It was low-scoring defensive slugfest.

Horn Lake held a slim 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Starkville tied the game at 16-16 on a Connor Rogers lay-up. From that point, Horn Lake went on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter to take a 23-16 lead at halftime.

To begin the third quarter the Eagles went on a quick 6-3 run to extend their lead to 29-21. Starkville ended the quarter on a 10-3 run to cut the Horn Lake lead down to 32-31 at the end of the third quarter.

To begin the fourth quarter the Yellowjackets went on a 7-2 run to take a 38-34 lead.

Rogers scored all seven points for Starkville.

With Starkville up 40-35, Connor Simms it a pair of free throws and follow with a lay-up for Horn Lake to cut the lead down to 40-38.

Adrian Caradine made one of two free throws for Horn Lake to cut the Starkville lead to 40-39.

Rogers hit a pair of free throws for Starkville with 1:01 left to extend the Yellowjacket lead to 42-39.

John Randle followed with a pair of free throws to for Horn Lake to cut the lead to 42-41. With 32 seconds left Horn Lake got the ball and passed the ball around to Pernell who then drove to the lane and made a lay-up to give the Eagles the 43-42 lead and Starkville followed by having two shots fall short at the rim as time expired.

“That was the state championship," Horn Lake coach Chico Potts said. "Both teams left it out on the floor, and we wanted to finish with the ball with the last possession of the game. Excited for my guys, they deserve every moment of it because I put my guys through Hell because of games like that. They work they’re tails off, and super proud of them. Kylen just stepped up and made a shot.”

Pernell had 14 points to lead Horn Lake, while Randle added 10 points for the Eagles.

“I stress about the small things and we play defense and that’s what we live and was able to get back our only loss,” Potts said. “I don’t know if Horn Lake has ever been this far, but we’re going to enjoy this ride and keep going.”

Rogers had a game-high 24 points to lead Starkville, including 11 points in the fourth quarter. Makhi Myles added 10 points for the Yellowjackets (25-5).

“We knew that was going to be a tough game, and we had our chances to put the game away and didn’t,” said Starkville coach Qua’Vious Howard. “Missed too many free throws and didn’t go up strong to get lay-ups or loose balls, so we feel like that game was on us.”