By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – In their matchup Tuesday, the Calhoun City Wildcats and the Tupelo Golden Wave got a taste of post-season basketball a week early.
And the Wildcats almost got a taste of a big win.
Keeping the contest close throughout, the Wildcats missed two game-tying shots in the final 5 seconds as the Wave hung on for a 70-68 victory.
“That was a high blood pressure game, it was a good game,” Calhoun City coach Daren Coffey said. “That last shot was right there, and then another one was right there.”
After trailing by as much as 60-50 in the closing seconds of the third quarter following a Chris Brooks 3-pointer for Tupelo, Calhoun City (17-10) rallied in the fourth quarter. As the contest went inside 1 minute to play, a Tavion Primer layup, then a Demarius Howard 3-pointer with 24 seconds left pulled the Wildcats within 69-68.
Deontaye Ewing made two free throws with 17 seconds left for Tupelo, but the second was not allowed because of a lane violation. Calhoun City turned the ball over, but Tupelo missed the front end of a bonus free throw with 12 seconds left.
On an inbounds play from about halfcourt following a Tupelo foul, the quick Primer was able to grab a tough pass heading toward the basket. The shot was missed on the drive, but Calhoun City center Taborris Coffey grabbed the rebound and had a makeable chance that slide off the rim at the buzzer.
“They gave 100 percent, that’s all you could ask,” Daren Coffey said of his Wildcats’ effort. “They liked the challenge of playing Tupelo.”
Taborris Coffey was throwing some of his football lineman-size frame around in the first quarter, scoring 12 points, as the Wildcats held a slim 20-19 lead by the end of the period. Tupelo (24-3) responded in the second period as Brooks scored eight points and the Wave crawled ahead 42-38 at the half.
Tupelo’s focus was sharp coming out of the halftime break, and the guard play of Deontaye Ewing and Shane Butler propelled Tupelo to a 60-52 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
“Calhoun City is a playoff team, and I told the team after the game you’ve got to be ready to go every night,” Tupelo coach Grant Pate said. “It was good for us to be in a one-possession game.
“You just can’t duplicate that in practice.”
Brooks and Ewing each totaled 16 points for Tupelo, while Howard led Calhoun City with 22.
– (G) Tupelo 63, Calhoun City 51: The Lady Wave continued to roll through the last days of the regular season, leading 56-31 after three quarters of play.
In just her fourth varsity game, eighth grader Jaliegha Polk led the Lady Wave offense with 18, while Sarka Coffey was tops for Calhoun City with 13.