Special to the Journal
ACKERMAN – The Tupelo Lady Wave are admittedly not the tallest Class 6A team in Mississippi.
Yet Saturday in the Mid-Mississippi Challenge, the Lady Wave had the tall task of guarding 6-footer Victoria Vivians, the recently crowned career leading scorer in state high school basketball.
The Lady Wave can play big, too.
Vivians added an impressive chapter to her career by torching the Lady Wave for 60 points, but Tupelo as a team played one of its best games of the season, grabbing an 88-84 victory over the Scott Central Lady Rebels.
“That was an all-around great team effort,” Tupelo head coach Matt Justice said. “Vivians is the best player I’ve seen at the high school level.
“Anybody who scores 60 points against a double-team, hats off to her.”
Eventually, it was hats off to the Lady Wave, who improved to 19-1 for the season. But not without some work.
Tupelo held as much as a 63-48 advantage, that coming in the third quarter following a Marqueesha Hoskins jumper from the lane. The Lady Wave were still looking strong by the end of the period with a 67-58 lead, and with Vivians sitting at 36 points.
But there was still some drama left in the final 8:00 minutes.
The long arms of the Scott Central (17-4) senior created a pair of steals and easy baskets, to go along with her free throws and 3-pointers, pulling her team within 84-79 with 47 seconds remaining.
A Hoskins layup and an Asia Partlow rebound and put back following a missed free throw gave Tupelo the clinching points it would need in the final 38 seconds.
“We didn’t hold her to what we wanted, but we tried, and that’s all you can ask,” said Tupelo senior guard Bre Jernigan, who at 5-foot-1, never thought she would ever be assigned to guard a 6-footer. “I accepted the challenge, and managed to do it.”
Setting the tone
Jernighan chipped in 16 for the Lady Wave, who had four players in double figures. Jaleigha Polk had the hot hand, scoring 26.
“Bre Jernigan set the tone from the very beginning, playing every minute of the game,” Justice said. “I think she is one of the best point guards in he state.
“All around, Jaleigha Polk did a good job as well, and her and Asia made some big shots for us. We wanted to come out and prove we’re one of the best teams in the state, and keep preparing for the division tournament.”
Vivians’ 60 included five 3-pointers, and 21 made free throws.
Tupelo led 51-41 at the half, and 21-20 after the first quarter.
The Lady Wave are in action again Tuesday, hosting South Panola in a Division 2-6A game.