By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – With three days off from school this week, the Tupelo boys basketball team is eager to get back on the court.
Tonight the Golden Wave (17-2) will aim to start their Division 2-6A slate 2-0 by taking on South Panola (0-1) in a home contest that will tip off at 7:30. The boys game will be preceded by the girls varsity contest that will start at 6.
“TPSD has a rule that no activities on days that school has been canceled are to take place,” said Wave boys head coach Grant Pate. “There’s no activities allowed, so we’re unable to practice while school’s been canceled.”
Both of tonight’s contests were originally scheduled for Tuesday night, but had to be postponed due to the recent winter storm. Admission to see both of tonight’s games is $5.
Meanwhile, the Golden Wave recently picked up an extra win – and tournament title – thanks to a forfeit by an opponent during the Poplar Bluff Hoopfest in Missouri over the Christmas holidays.
Soldan International Studies out of St. Louis forfeited its 74-52 tournament championship game win over the Wave on Dec. 30, because a couple of the school’s players were later ruled ineligible for the tournament. Those players had gotten ejected from a game prior to playing in the tournament and should have been suspended for the event due to Missouri State High School Activities Association rules.
On the court that’s named after former college star and current NBA player Tyler Hansbrough, the Wave played rather well, defeating Overton of Memphis, 80-72, in a first-round game and then Imagine College Prep of St. Louis, 68-33, in the semifinals of a tourney featuring three teams from Missouri, three from Tennessee and one from Arkansas.
Tupelo was the only Mississippi school playing in the late December event.
“It was a really strong tournament field,” Pate said. “In 25 years of the tournament, the home team has only won it one time. The only year Poplar Bluff won it, obviously Tyler Hansbrough and Ben Hansbrough were playing on that team.
“That just goes to show the reputation and the strength of the tournament year in and year out. Sometimes home teams set up their own tournament so that they can win it.
“That’s not the case for this one. It’s really tough every year.”
And Tupelo’s success at this year’s tournament is not a fluke. The Golden Wave featured some very talented players in Poplar Bluff.
Rashon Coleman won the tournament’s 3-point contest as teammate Deontaye Ewing tried to defend last year’s crown. In the dunk contest, Golden Wave players Chris Brooks and Josh Hamilton both made the finals before losing out.
“It was really neat,” Pate said about playing in the Poplar Bluff tourney. “There were big crowds at every game and there was lot of support there.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org