HED:Wave, Lady Wave cruise into Division 1-5A finals
By D.E. Wheeler
HORN LAKE Usually, as freshman Tan White goes, so goes the Tupelo Lady Wave.
Against the Horn Lake Lady Eagles Thursday night in the Division 1-5A Tournament, White was held in check by a box-in-one defense most of the time. However, her teammates picked her up.
And a key 9-0 fourth quarter run helped Tupelo pick up a 58-49 win.
The Golden Wave met with little resistance in its semifinal contest against Southaven, beating the Chargers 71-36. The wins put both Tupelo teams in the division finals today, with the girls game starting at 6 p.m.
The wins also qualify both Tupelo teams for the Class 5A North Mississippi Tournament, which starts next week.
“I don’t know what to say anymore about this team,” Lady Wave coach Nanci Gray said. “There’s no magic this time of year, you’ve just got to play good, hard ball.”
The Lady Eagles seemed to be playing the good, hard ball for most of the first three quarters. Horn Lake led for all of the first 22 minutes. But thanks to the shooting of Tiffany Gray and Sabrina Norwood, Horn Lake never led by more than six points and led 37-34 with three minutes to play in the third period.
Then a basket and a free throw by Joyce Pulliam and an outside shot by Gray pushed Tupelo to a 39-37 lead at the end of the quarter.
“The game was going pretty much like I hoped it would for three quarters,” said Horn Lake coach Rhonda McKinney, a Thrasher native. “Gray just stepped up and hit the shots, and Norwood pumped in three or four big ones too.
“But I thought the game was still in our hands, but some rebounds hit off our hands into theirs, and we missed some point-blank shots.”
Two minutes into the final quarter, the score stood at 41-41, then Tupelo started on its decisive run. Gray ripped a 3-pointer with five minutes, 37 seconds left and White followed with three straight baskets.
An offensive rebound and putback was her first basket, followed by two strong defensive rebounds with White then breaking out of the pack and gliding downcourt and past defenders for layups. That gave Tupelo a 50-41 lead with 3:18 left.
“I did tell Tan that when Horn Lake’s defensive pressure increased to take control, and she did,” Gray said.
The next two minutes saw the Lady Wave’s free throw shooting keep the game under control with White, Norwood and Lameka Trimble hitting 7-of-8 in that span. Gray led Tupelo with 17, Norwood hit 14 and White added 13, 11 coming in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Wave will play Southaven in the division finals.
The Golden Wave was not able to match its previous 93 and 91-point efforts against the Chargers, but still executed its offensive and defensive game plans nicely for the win.
An 18-0 run by the Wave from the third quarter into the fourth earased any doubt about the outcome. Darrell Traylor led Tupelo with 17 points.
Tupelo will play Horn Lake in the division finals.