By D.E. Wheeler
The Grenada Chargers came to Tupelo looking for a couple of Division 2-5A wins, and almost got completely swept away by a strong tide of Golden Wave basketball.
Both the Tupelo boys and girls were on their respective games Tuesday night, but only the Wave rode the waves of success. The Golden Wave finally did not let a second-half, double-digit lead slip away to nothing, ripping the Chargers for an 84-64 win.
In the girls game, the Lady Wave never trailed the highly-ranked Lady Chargers in the first half, but Tupelo let last minute turnovers finally ruin the upset bid 49-45.
“We started out strong and finished strong,” Tupelo boys coach Lee Stratton said. “The game was a whole lot closer than the score.”
John Bradley’s inside offense helped the Wave (14-13, 3-3) move to a 28-13 lead late in the first quarter. But 3:27 before halftime, Derek Hardiman’s three-point play pulled the Chargers (14-6, 2-3) to within 36-35.
The score was tied three times before the intermission, but the Wave kept its poise and led 46-44 at the break. Willie Poster scored seven points in the third quarter as Tupelo edged to a 60-52 margin, and a 3-pointer by Mel McElroy early in the fourth pushed the margin to 65-52.
Back came the Chargers with an 8-0 run, and Tupelo seemed ready to fold once again as Hardiman’s basket with 4:32 left cut the margin to 67-62. The Wave stepped up to the challenge the rest of the way, outscoring Grenada 17-2.
“Guys like John (Bradley) and Willie (Poster) got on the boards real well and got some offensive rebounds,” Stratton said. “And our guards played good too.
“Richard (Rainey) scored only two points, but had a really good floor game.”
Bradley and Poster led the Tupelo offense with 24 and 21 points, respectively, with Donell Watson adding 14. Hardiman hit 21, Derald Parks 14 and Andre Bridges 12 for Grenada.
The win ensures that the Wave will not finish in last place in the division, thus avoiding Starkville in the first round of the division tournament. Starkville has beaten the Wave twice this season.
Tupelo will host the Division 2-5A Tournament Feb. 13 and 16.
(G) Grenada 49, Tupelo 45: The Lady Chargers, ranked No. 3 in Mississippi by the Associated Press, never led until the third quarter at 29-27. Grenada then led 42-31 at the end of the quarter, but with 2:40 left, Ashley Fields’ layup pushed the Lady Wave to a 45-44 led.
Tupelo missed a shot from the field and two free throws before Grenada retook the lead for good on two LaTonya Cooper free throws with 1:19 left. The Lady Wave missed one layup and had four turnovers in the remaining seconds.
Angela Williams led the Lady Chargers (21-3, 5-0) with 13 and Cooper added 12. For the Lady Wave (8-14, 0-6), Fields scored 15 and Lawanda Gaston hit 12.
Tupelo led 15-13 after the first quarter and 25-24 at the half.