Start informed Central Catholic shortly after the tip-off of last night's pivotal City League contest that sharing the league title is not in the Spartans' plans.
Yolanda Richardson and Maleeka Kynard served as the lead messengers as the Spartans torched the Irish 68-46 in the final regular-season league game for both teams.
Richardson, a 6-1 senior, scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Kynard, a 5-6 sophomore, scored 18 of her 20 points before halftime, which included a 4-for-6 3-point shooting effort.
Jaymie Jackson scored 11 of her 15 points
before the break.
The Spartans (14-3, 11-0) are the No. 1 seed entering the CL playoffs starting Wednesday at Central Catholic. The Irish (10-7, 9-2) are the No. 3 seed.
"This put us in the No. 1 spot, but we knew going into the game anything could happen," Richardson said. "I thought we played good and executed very well."
The Spartans established the tempo early and led 22-16 after one quarter with Kynard hitting her first three 3s and scoring 13 points.
"I haven't had a half like that," Kynard said. "It feels really good to finally beat them."
The Irish, led by Brianna Jones' 15 points and five rebounds, trailed 39-22 by halftime.
It was nearly clear by then the Spartans were on their way to their first undefeated regular season in league play.
Central coach Steve Pfahler understood the 17-point deficit on the road provided a serious challenge.
"We had something to play for and there is a lot of pride on the line, but let's face it, Start and Waite are the cream of the league," he said. "Start is just better than we are."
The Spartans played with a steadiness associated with successful teams, showed scoring versatility and outrebounded the Irish 28-22.
"We're happy but we have our goals set on bigger things," Start coach Bob Brown said. "We want to win the City League title and win a district title."
Brown was pleased with some of the things he saw from his Spartans. He credited Richardson and Kynard in particular for solid all-around performances.
"[Richardson] has gotten better and better this season," Brown said. "Yolanda is playing like a senior finally. She goes to the rim hard most of the time.
"I think [Kynard] can be one of the best high school guards to ever play in this area."
Kynard went into the game focused and thinking about playing well for a cousin who recently died.
"I just wanted to come out and dedicate it to my cousin," she said.
Central's Sierra Calhoun finished with 13 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.
Hannah Solomon came off the Irish bench to grab a team-best eight boards to go along with six points.
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