By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SHANNON – The Shannon Red Raiders had lost for the first time in more than two months Tuesday.
That was just enough to give head coach Cedric Brim pause, worried about a letdown.
The fourth-quarter heroics of LaKee Westbrook and Jermaine Gilliam quelled any concerns Brim had as the Red Raiders responded Thursday under the intense pressure from the rival Tupelo Golden Wave to claim a 61-58 victory in front of a packed house at Shannon High School.
“I was worried how they would come back after the loss Tuesday,” said Brim, whose Raiders lost in overtime to Corinth. “The team came out and battled in the second half.
“They kept their composure, and got the win.”
Composure was certainly needed by both teams with five ties in the fourth quarter alone, which began 44-44. At points in the period, it was almost a battle of Westbrook and Tupelo’s Rashon Coleman, who each converted multiple baskets.
A tip in and a resounding dunk by the Wave’s Josh Hamilton with 1 minute, 21 seconds left gave Tupelo a 56-54 lead. Westbrook and Coleman traded baskets, leaving Tupelo (19-8) with a 58-56 lead with 55 seconds left.
Then Gilliam stepped onto center stage, calmly draining a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to give the Raiders (23-2) the edge. Later, Tupelo had to commit three fouls to put Shannon at the free throw line, where Javon Green ripped the net twice to give the Raiders their final winning margin.
Tupelo had one more look at the basket, but a charging foul erased a potential tying three-point play.
“It was a back and forth game, and give Shannon credit for making plays,” Tupelo coach Grant Pate said. “They’re one of the best shooting teams in the state.”
In a close first half, two baskets by Jordan Garmon helped Tupelo to a slim 31-25 halftime lead.
The third quarter had multiple swings, with Tupelo leading by as much as 44-37 following two Coleman baskets and a Jordan Sadler layup. Back came Shannon as a 3-pointer and a layup by Westbrook tied the contest entering the final period.
Both Westbrook and Coleman scored 22 points to lead their respective teams.
(G) Tupelo 66, Shannon 52: The Lady Wave came out hot, with Casey Marshall and Jaleigha Polk combining for four 3-pointers in the first quarter for a 24-13 lead.
Marshall led Tupelo with 24, while Shae Patterson hit 16 for Shannon.