By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A 2 or 3, as long it went in, Chris Brooks would be satisfied.
His buzzer-beating shot in front of his team’s bench, nonetheless, happened to provide the ultimate satisfaction for him and his Tupelo High teammates.
The 3-pointer gave the Daily Journal’s top-ranked Golden Wave a thrilling 73-72 comeback win over Division 2-6A rival and fifth-ranked Starkville.
“It wasn’t necessarily called for me,” Brooks said about the play in the closing seconds, “but I guess I became the open man. When I took the shot it was a regular shot, but the dude (Starkville defender) jumped out and so I had to try to dodge him.
“After I let it go, I just had to keep my form up and follow through.”
Tupelo (21-2, 5-0 Division 2-6A) trailed Starkville by 13 points, 64-51, with 3:31 to play in the game. The Golden Wave was still down eight (69-61) with 90 seconds remaining.
A 3-pointer by Shane Butler and free throws by Deontaye Ewing (game-high 20 points) and Rashon Coleman (12 points) pulled the Wave to within one, at 71-70, with 34 seconds left.
A free throw by Jacolby Mobley (team-high 17 points) put the Jackets up 72-70 with 25 seconds to go. Ewing had a chance to tie the game from the free-throw line with seven seconds remaining, but missed both free throws.
Thank goodness he did. Tupelo got the ball after a mad scramble, and Brooks did the rest. The Tupelo senior finished with 13 points with the game-winning 3-pointer.
“I thought for 30 minutes we pretty much controlled the game,” said Starkville coach Greg Carter, whose team (12-6, 2-2) lost for the second time, by less than three points, to Tupelo in a span of seven days. “And for the last two minutes, they pretty much outplayed us.”
Mobley, who didn’t play last Friday against Tupelo due to a “coach’s reason,” played a huge factor in the Jackets breaking open a 15-15 tie after the first.
The Starkville guard scored six points and tossed two alley-oops to Gavin Ware (15 points) to give the Yellowjackets a 36-25 lead in the second quarter.
Starkville led 36-27 at halftime and by as many as 12 points in the third quarter.
“We just kept telling them that they had to keep playing hard and they had to keep playing with the greatest effort they could give to have a chance at the game,” said Tupelo coach Grant Pate. “And just to try to nibble at it, to nibble away at the lead.”
– (G) Tupelo 53, Starkville 46: On a night filled with comebacks, the Lady Wave had their own. Down by seven entering the fourth quarter, Tupelo would then outscore Starkville 19-5 in the final eight minutes.
Chy Cunningham led the Lady Wave (12-10, 4-1 Division 2-6A) with a game-high 16, while Dasia Mosley added 14.
Jacqueline Fair (13) and Courtney Moore (12) led Starkville (5-13, 1-3).