By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Keeping its 20-game winning streak alive will not be an easy task for Tupelo, the Daily Journal’s top-ranked boys basketball team.
“It’s a brutal week,” Golden Wave third-year coach Grant Pate said Tuesday, moments after watching his team defeat Columbus 67-44 in Division 2-6A play. “We’ve got the two division games and we play Piney Woods, a team I’m told may have as many as six Division I players.
“They’re a 2A team, but they may be one the best teams in the state. Starkville’s a powerhouse in 6A.”
A powerhouse looking for revenge.
The Golden Wave defeated the Yellowjackets 58-56 last week to go 4-0 in division play. A victory tonight at home against Starkville would clinch a top seed for THS in the 2-6A tournament.
Tupelo, 20-2, used its depth in the second half to bust open a close game against Columbus.
“In the third quarter, when we made our move, we used out depth to keep guys fresh,” Pate said. “We were able to keep the pressure up.
“We had to fight back and scratch.”
The showdown against Piney Woods, 14-3, is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the 20th annual Kiwanis Hotbed Classic in New Albany.
The Tornadoes are led by 6-foot-7 power forward Kentwan Smith, who’s averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Deontaye Ewing, a guard, leads Tupelo in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game. Chris Brooks, Rahson Coleman and Dajon Reno are all averaging 11 points per game to give the Wave a balanced scoring punch.
Pate said reaching the 20-win plateau is something his team can build on.
“We list goals on the board and 20-plus wins is one,” he said. “It’s exciting to be working with a group of kids so determined to work and work really hard. It’s a privilege to coach them.”
– The 20th annual Kiwanis Hotbed Classic is scheduled for Saturday at New Albany’s Memorial Gym:
9 a.m. – West Union vs. Houlka
10:15 a.m. – East Union vs.
11:30 a.m. – Myrtle vs. Corinth
12:45 p.m. – Ingomar vs. Durant
2 p.m. – Olive Branch vs.
3:15 p.m. – (Girls) New Albany
vs. Bob Jones, Ala.
4:30 p.m. – New Albany vs. Bob
6 p.m. – Rosa Fort vs. Hillcrest,
7:15 p.m. – Tupelo vs. Piney
8:45 p.m. – Ripley vs. Okolona