By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Grant Pate thought the Tupelo Golden Wave played with a “purpose” on Tuesday.
Rival coach Todd Arnold compared the Wave to a “buzz saw.”
With good defensive focus and some precise shooting, the Wave buzzed the Southaven Chargers 92-61 in first-round action of the North Mississippi 6A Tournament.
With the victory, the Wave (28-3) accomplished its purpose this night – to win and advance. Tupelo reached to the semifinal round of the North, where it will play host Vicksburg on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in another putout game.
Vicksburg was an 83-72 winner over Grenada.
“We came out with a purpose, and played with a purpose,” said Pate, Tupelo’s head coach. “They team really paid attention to the game plan, and played with a lot of passion.
“Our goal was to play with intensity on defense, and to create some transition for the offense.”
Tupelo was spot-on with its game plan early, as well as from 3-point range. With Dajon Reno, Shane Butler, and Chris Brooks combining to hit the first three 3-pointers the Wave shot, Tupelo moved to an 11-2 lead.
But Southaven’s spread offense caused Tupelo some trouble as the Chargers (19-7) pulled within 19-15 following an Aston Morton three-point play with 1 minute, 17 seconds to play in the period. No problem for the Wave this night as a three-point play by Devonte Carruthers, and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Rashon Coleman had Tupelo back up 27-18.
The Wave hit three more 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Reno’s drive and layup with 22 seconds left before intermission gave Tupelo a 50-30 halftime lead.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” said Arnold, Southaven’s head coach. “We wanted to handle their pressure, and we didn’t execute at times like we needed.”
The halftime break did not interrupt the Wave momentum. Deontaye Ewing scored 14 points in the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Tupelo was set up to cruise into the fourth period with a 74-41 advantage.
“We gave up some layups early, and had to make some adjustments,” Pate said. “The offense played really good, but I think a lot of that was attributed to the work we did on the defensive end.
“Without the effort the kids have given, we wouldn’t be in this position.”
Ewing tallied 21 points to lead the Wave offense, with Brooks adding 14, Coleman 12, and Butler 10. Domonique Harris led Southaven with 18.