By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Tupelo’s Lady Wave owned Jackson Murrah early in Monday’s MHSAA North Mississippi Class 6A Tournament opener.
Wave freshman guard Jaleigha Polk sank a 3-pointer to give her team an 8-0 lead at 4-minute, 56-second mark of the first quarter.
Tupelo’s highlights ended there.
The stronger, quicker Lady Mustangs answered with a 15-2 run and cruised to a 63-44 victory that ended the Lady Wave’s season.
“They were a lot more physical than we were,” said Tupelo first-year coach Matt Justice, whose team finished 20-11. “Their play took a toll on us. It was the difference in the game.”
Murrah,19-8, advanced to Friday’s North state semifinals where it will play Southaven.
The Lady Mustangs were led by Jacinda Smith with 17 points and Tatyana Lofton with 10. Tupelo’s leading scorers were Polk with 13 and senior Antoinette Riddle, who finished her career with 10.
“We knew coming in we had to do three things,” Justice said. “We had to rebound, stop the ball in transition and make free throws. We missed 10 free throws in the first half.
“Early on I thought we rebounded well. We made them get in their halfcourt offense. In the second half Murrah was able to kick it out and run.”
Tupelo, down 33-28 at halftime, cut it to 33-31on a 3-pointer by Casey Marshall to start the second half.
Murrah responded like it did in the first half, scoring baskets in transition to take a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
“It took us a half to feel our way through what Tupelo was doing,” Murrah coach Dakedreon Lampkin said. “There’s no doubt we’re our strongest in transition.”