By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Golden Wave basketball team has a horrible record against teams from outside Northeast Mississippi.
Chalk one up for the Wave on Friday, though.
With clutch play in the closing minutes by veteran Tupelo players like Isaiah Traylor, the Wave held off the Grenada Chargers 67-63 to claim sole possession of first place in Division 2-6A.
“We needed the points, and we needed the win,” said Traylor, a senior who scored six key points inside the final two minutes of the victory. “This was a big game for us, and it gives us a little breathing room in the division.”
The night was a sweep for Tupelo as the Lady Wave easily dispatched the Lady Chargers 68-26. The Lady Wave (17-1, 3-0) had a 37-17 lead at the half to maintain their division lead.
“We came out with intensity, really focused tonight,” Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice said. “This is something that has been lacking the last couple of games.”
The boys game was hard-fought throughout, with Tupelo (12-8, 3-0) moving to a 10 point lead twice in the fourth quarter, the second time at 55-45 on a jumper by J. J. Ashby with 6:43 to play.
Grenada (11-6, 1-1) was not deterred, knotting the score at 60-60 with 2:28 left on a Trey Spencer rebound and basket.
That is when Traylor stepped up for the Wave.
The senior grabbed a steal and went full-court for the layup with 1:52 left to push Tupelo back into the lead. Traylor then converted four free throws on two trips to the line with 28 and 12 seconds remaining to help the Wave seal the important win.
“This was a big win cause they are looked at as the team to beat in the division,” Wave head coach Jeff Norwood said. “I’m proud of the team cause I see constant growth.”
Antonio Green topped the Tupelo scoring with 24 points, with Traylor adding 15. Tyrin Jones tallied 17 to lead Grenada.
“We struggled at the end, but we found a way to win,” Norwood said. “The most pleasing thing is I think we can play better.”
Jaleigha Polk had the blazing hand early for the Lady Wave, scoring 14 in the first quarter as Tupelo moved smartly to a 22-7 lead.
After going into the halftime break with a 20-point lead, the Lady Wave came out of the locker room and keep its foot on the pedal. Tupelo outscored Grenada 19-4 in the third quarter, including a 14-0 run to begin the period.
Senior Asia Partlow and freshman Alayjah Sherer combined for 11 points in the quarter as Tupelo pushed its lead to 56-21.
Polk paced the offense with 22 points.
The Lady Wave are ranked No. 4 in the Clarion Ledger Super 10.