By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice wants his team to be known for its effective defense.
The Belmont Lady Cardinals got a healthy dose of that effectiveness Saturday.
In action in the Crosstown Challenge at the BancorpSouth Arena, the Lady Wave clamped down on the Lady Cardinals early, taking a 61-42 victory.
The Lady Wave improved to 9-0.
“This was a great defensive effort by us today,” Justice said. “We came in focused because we knew the tradition of Belmont.
“We wanted to come in and play hard on defense, and I think we proved defense wins games.”
A little offense does not hurt either, and junior Jaleigha Polk was hot early for the Lady Wave. Polk tallied 12 points in the first quarter as Tupelo sprinted to a 16-4 lead through the first quarter.
Both squads clamped defensively in the second period as Tupelo claimed a 25-10 halftime lead. Tupelo led by as much as 61-34 in the fourth quarter.
“We played a great team, who played great defensively,” Belmont head coach Chris Higginbottom said. “But I thought the key was Tupelo won in rebounding, and won in turnovers.
“But that’s why we’re playing these types of game, to get experience.”
Polk was tops for the Lady Wave offense with 24 points, while Natasha Jones scored 21 for Belmont (2-5).
“That’s whet we want to do the rest of the season,” Justice said. “We want to be known as a good defensive team.”
(B) Shannon 58, Carbon Hill 49: Sean Watkins scored 16 for Shannon (6-2). The Red Raiders led Carbon Hill (Al.) 33-24 at the half.
(B) Itawamba AHS 59, Pine Grove 41: Andrew McDonald led Itawamba in scoring with 17, and Garrett Garner paced Pine Grove with 15.
(G) Alcorn Central 66, Florence 60: Chelsea Causey tallied 20 for Alcorn Central, which led 30-25 at the half.