Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – When two good defensive high school teams clash, the result might not be visually pleasing.
But the result was quite pleasing for the undefeated Tupelo Lady Wave.
Tupelo and Ripley battled for three quarters before the Lady Wave pulled away in the final period for a 78-54 victory in action Tuesday at the Booneville Kiwanis Classic.
“The game was a lot closer than the score indicated, and Ripley did a good job defensively,” Tupelo head coach Matt Justice said. “We did a better job in the second half keeping our intensity up, and running the floor.
“Our guards did a good job controlling the game. Give Ripley a lot of credit, they’re one of the most physical teams we’ve faced all year, and they force you to make plays.”
Tupelo (11-0) was trying to force the action in the third quarter, initially beginning the period with a 7-0 run for a 36-23 lead on four points by Jaleigha Polk. Two Bre Jernighan baskets pushed the Tupelo advantage to as much as 45-31 in the period, but Ripley’s Zadia Cox scored eight points in the final two minutes of the quarter to help pull the Lady Tigers (10-2) within 47-41.
“Tupelo pushed us away from the basket and kept us away from the lane,” Ripley coach Cliff Orman said. “In the fourth quarter, turn- overs hurt, and Tupelo continued to crash the boards.
“We tried to get back in the game too quick, and couldn’t get in rhythm on offense.”
Tupelo began the final quarter on a 10-1 run behind two baskets and a free throw by Marqueesha Hoskins for a 57-42 lead. Despite three baskets from Cox in a quick span, Ripley could never dent the Lady Wave advantage by more than 13 points the rest of the way.
“I was surprised we were able to pull away from them at the end because they match up with us really well,” Justice said.
Jernighan paced the Tupelo offense with 26 points, with Polk adding 18. Cox was tops for Ripley with 26.
Action in the Booneville tournament moves from Booneville High to Northeast Community College today, with the Lady Wave in action at noon against Corinth. The Lady Wave play next Saturday at New Hope against the highly-ranked Lady Trojans.
(B) Corinth 79, Ripley 66: Kendall Stafford led Corinth (11-2) with 22, while Malik Pearson scored 21 to lead Ripley (9-3).
Corinth led 19-10 after the first quarter, and 40-30 at the half.