By Paul Jones/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
COLUMBUS – With the score knotted at 30-30, Tupelo head coach Grant Pate decided to change things up heading into the fourth quarter. His decision to change defensive presses eventually paid off.
The Golden Wave (15-3) opened the fourth quarter with an 18-6 run en route to a 54-41 victory in their 1-6A opener.
“We knew it would be a battle and it always is when you come to Columbus,” said Pate. “Columbus can get you out of your rhythm and they slow it down a bit. So we changed to a different press in the fourth quarter and our guys executed well.”
Columbus (2-12, 0-2 in the district) did slow things down in the first half and Tupelo held a 19-18 lead at the break. The back-and-forth affair saw neither team lead by more than three points heading into the final period of action.
While much of the team struggled in the first half, Tupelo’s Deontaye Ewing provided much of the offense. Ewing scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the first half.
“We tried to bring them out and attack the baseline in the second half,” said Pate. “And Deontay got 12 points in the first half to keep us in it. And he did it while being in foul trouble. He expends so much energy when he is out there but I wouldn’t put anybody else in there. He plays so hard for us and means a lot to us.”
Where Ewing left off in the second half, Tupelo’s Chris Brooks and DaJon Reno picked up the slack. Reno scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half while Brooks had eight of his ten points in the second half.
During Tupelo’s game-clinching run, Brooks and Reno combined for 13 points in that 18-6 spurt.
– (G) Columbus 51, Tupelo 33: The Lady Wave fell behind 15-2 after one quarter and never recovered in their district opener. Tupelo fell to 8-10 while Columbus moved to 11-4 and 2-0 in the district.
Chy Cunningham was the lone Tupelo player to reach double digits with 15 points.
Columbus was led by Kiandria Patterson’s 17 points while Maggie Proffitt added 12.