TUPELO – Tupelo has played an unforgiving schedule. Now the Golden Wave are starting to be unforgiving – winners of five straight games. No one seems to notice the eight losses.
“When you go up against tougher opponents, it helps when you come to division games,” senior guard Isaiah Traylor said. “It helps you out in the long run. It doesn’t seem like it, but it does.”
Tupelo made the biggest jump in the latest Northeast Mississippi rankings, moving from No. 10 to No. 4.
The schedule has featured two losses to No. 2 West Point, wins against No. 5 Shannon and No. 6 Biggersville and a loss against 3A contender Velma Jackson.
“I think we’re really making some progress, as far as playing together and turning it over less … and we’re rebounding better,” Tupelo coach Jeff Norwood said. “So it gives you a better chance.”
With only two seniors, Norwood said this team is rightfully a little slow-maturing, but says it’s happening at a good time.
The Wave (13-8) will put their streak on the line in today’s Hotbed Classic. Tupelo will play No. 9 North Pontotoc at 3:30 p.m.
“I love this time of year, the start of March Madness,” Norwood said. “But if you don’t dance now, you don’t get to dance later.”
Senior captain Traylor and junior Antonio Green have shot the ball well. Norwood says senior JJ Ashby is probably his best leader.
The schedule continues to be tough. Tupelo goes to Grenada on Tuesday for a division game against the Chargers and Louisiana Tech signee Joniah White. Green says he is especially looking forward to playing 4A contender Corinth to close the regular season.
Tupelo is getting key contributions from a lot of their youth – including junior Tre Long, sophomores Tre Jenkins, Eric Fuller and Tristan Upchurch, as well as Easton Upchurch, the lone freshman.
“Along with them and my older group, if we can get it to mesh just right, I think we can be hard to play against,” Norwood said. “I just like our chances. I’m still in the process of trying to teach them to go game-by-game and be ready to fight.”