Pate got his wish early as a strong first quarter propelled the Wave to a 51-43 victory over the Southaven Chargers on Saturday at the Domino's Shootout in Hickory Flat.
"We really started out focused," Pate said. "Then in the second half, we were taking different shots, and weren't as patient as the first quarter."
Among those focused for Tupelo (12-6) was senior guard Dajon Reno, who flashed some outside-inside threat with eight points on three field goals in the first three minutes of the contest. Senior guard Rashon Coleman then bagged a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the period as the Wave moved smartly to a 21-10 lead.
A Southaven zone defense stalled Tupelo momentum most of the remaining three quarters, allowing the Chargers to hang around. Following a rebound and basket by Marquise Rimpson two minutes into the third quarter, Southaven had pulled within 28-24.
Tupelo responded with a crucial 10-0 run, and Coleman's fade-away from the wing pushed the Wave up 38-24.
"I would love for Dajon to continue to play the way he came out today," said Pate, who saw Reno lead the Wave with 20 points. "Dajon and Rashon can get us going real quick, and our seniors are keeping us focused."
Southaven could never crack an eight-point margin the remainder of the contest.
(G) Southaven 70, Tupelo 41: After in-your-face defense from a two-loss Columbus Lady Falcons team Friday, the Lady Wave had trouble with the skill level of the Lady Chargers.
Tupelo hung around in the first quarter as a pair of baskets from Casey Marshall kept the Southaven (17-1) lead down to 19-11 by the end of the period.
Tupelo continued to have trouble with the Southaven defense, especially 6-foot-2 Jasmine Joyner, and the Lady Chargers gradually pulled away.
"That's the most skilled team I've seen," said Tupelo coach Matt Justice of Southaven, the No. 6 team in the Clarion Ledger rankings. "We've got to let these two games go and get ready for South Panola Tuesday."
JoAnna Smith led Southaven with 20, and Marshall paced Tupelo (12-6) with 15.