By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
SOUTHAVEN – Dajon Reno walked out of Tupelo’s locker room after the game to a large round of applause and cheers from the Golden Wave faithful.
After his performance in the Class 6A North Half championship game at DeSoto Central High, the senior deserved them.
Reno knocked down the game winning 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining to lift Tupelo’s boys to their first North title since 1988, 43-42 over Jim Hill.
“My teammate Rashon Coleman, he said ‘Man you’ve got to hit this shot’ and I was like ‘Bro, I got you,’” said Reno, who finished with 15 points. “He gave it to me and I hit it. I just thank God for it.”
Coming out of a timeout, Coleman took the inbounds pass and worked his way around the 3-point line. He eventually found Reno in the right corner in front of Tupelo’s bench, where he hit the winning shot.
“We’ve worked on that play everyday in practice,” Golden Wave coach Grant Pate said. “Dajon’s a tremendous shooter and we felt like that was the thing to do. We’ve got as much confidence in him to shoot it as anybody and he didn’t let us down.”
After Reno’s basket, Jim Hill brought the ball past halfcourt and called a timeout with 2.5 seconds left. The Tigers (23-10) elected to put the ball in the hands of Ben Seales, whose shot rimmed out as the clock expired.
“Everybody in the gym thought the ball was going to Fred (Thomas),” Jim Hill coach Stanford Speech said. “We put the ball right in (Ben’s) hands in his spot of the floor, and he makes that shot nine out of ten times everyday.”
Thomas, a Mississippi State signee, made his impact by scoring 20 points and recording three dunks.
His first slam, an alleyoop from Terry Morris, started a 12-4 scoring spurt that upped Jim Hill’s lead to 23-12 in the second quarter.
The Golden Wave (25-8) responded with a 7-0 run to trail the Tigers by only four points, 23-19, at halftime.
Tupelo now waits 10 days before making its first appearance at Mississippi Coliseum since 1999. The Golden Wave will take on South runner-up Biloxi at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 29.