By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – In her first three seasons as a head coach, Stephanie Murphy guided teams into the Class 5A championship game – twice with Meridian, once with Tupelo.
Expand that timeline a bit, and Murphy had teams in Jackson at the State Tournament four of her first five seasons.
Pretty lofty standards to maintain.
Back to the present, and Murphy has her sights set on a return to Jackson with the Tupelo Lady Wave as the Division 2-6A Tournament begins today in Starkville. And she hopes her Lady Wave have that same focus and goal as well.
“I don’t want a repeat of last season, and hopefully the girls understand that,” said Murphy, who saw the Lady Wave lose their first-round game of the division tournament last season, ending their season. “That’s got to be your goal, getting to Jackson, that’s just the way I view it.
“I want this group to be able to run out on the floor of the coliseum in Jackson for warm-ups.”
The Lady Wave (17-11) begin that road to Jackson today at 7 p.m. in Starkville against South Panola. Tupelo tied for the regular season 2-6A title, but is the No. 2 seed because of tiebreakers, while South Panola is the No. 3 seed.
Tupelo swept South Panola in both regular season contests.
“We’ve got to do a better job of running our offense against their 1-3-1,” Murphy said. “It’s hard to get into a rhythm, get comfortable against it, partly because they run it so well.
“And if our defense plays as well as it has of late, well be fine.”
The Lady Wave are also adjusting well to a different rotation than the one it started the season with. Point guard Antoinette Riddle rejoined the lineup in mid-December after finishing rehab of an injury, and 8th grader Jaliegha Polk has played in the last six games, hitting in double figures offensively in three of those.
“We’re healthy as compared to November,” Murphy said. “Riddle has given us consistency at point guard, and Polk is helping us stretch defenses out.”
Chy Cunningham is leading the Lady Wave offense with 14.5 points per game; Dasia Mosely is a workhorse under the goal for Tupelo and is averaging 9 rebounds per game, and Riddle is leading the team with 3.6 assists per game.
The Golden Wave (25-3) are the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and play South Panola at 5:30 p.m. today. In the 2-6A tournament, teams winning today will advance to Friday’s championships, and more importantly, advance into next week’s north 6A tournament.
n Tourney schedule, Page 2B