Lady Wave turn on the defense at Robertson Challenge

Lauren Wood | Buy at Tupelo's Jaleigha Polk and Braxton Thomas swarm Memphis Central's MeMe Hill during Saturday's win.

Lauren Wood | Buy at
Tupelo’s Jaleigha Polk and Braxton Thomas swarm Memphis Central’s MeMe Hill during Saturday’s win.

By David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

PONTOTOC – The Tupelo Lady Wave basketball team is demonstrating that it knows how to win in different ways.

A week ago, Tupelo scored 88 points in a win against Scott Central.

And then there was Saturday, with the Lady Wave showing a patient defense and offense en route to a 50-39 victory over the Memphis Central Lady Warriors in action at the Robertson Sportswear Lady Challenge at Pontotoc High School.

Lauren Wood | Buy at Tupelo's Jaleigha Polk scored all 13 of her points in the second half.

Lauren Wood | Buy at
Tupelo’s Jaleigha Polk scored all 13 of her points in the second half.

“This was definitely a quality win for our girls,” said Tupelo head coach Matt Justice, whose Lady Wave are No. 3 in the state in the Clarion-Ledger Super 10. “Memphis was much bigger than us at every position on the floor.

“We were able to slow them down, keep them from getting out and hurting us too bad. We kept them contained, and taking tough shots.”

Tupelo forwards Braxton Thomas and Marqueesha Hoskins were ready for the test of the taller Lady Warriors in the first quarter, combining to score eight points as the game was knotted at 12-12 through the opening period.

Tupelo (20-1) gained a little momentum early in the second period as offense from Thomas and Asia Partlow pushed the Lady Wave ahead 17-12. The pace slowed down again, but points from Thomas and Hoskins allowed Tupelo to go into the intermission up 23-19.

“We struggled a lot in the first half,” said Hoskins, a junior. “We just had to outrun them.”

Tupelo out-ran Memphis in the first half with the Wave’s leading scorer, Jaleigha Polk, not scoring a point. That changed in the third period.

Polk hit her first basket with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the period, a 3-pointer, to push the Tupelo advantage to 28-19. Memphis pulled within 28-25 on a Meme Hill basket, but Polk bagged six points to close the period, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left for a 34-28 lead.

Polk and Bre Jernigan each scored in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter to push the Tupelo lead to 38-28, and the Lady Wave were able to contain Memphis the rest of the way.

“Bre Jernigan did a good job controlling the game on both the offensive and defensive end,” Justice said. “And Jaleigha Polk works hard enough during the game that eventually, her shots would start falling.”

Polk scored all of her team-high 13 points in the second half. Tennessee State commit Tia Wooten led Memphis with 14.

Tupelo looks to wrap up a perfect Division 2-6A schedule on Tuesday at Grenada, then visits Shannon on Friday.

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