By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
First-year Tupelo Golden Wave boys coach Jeff Norwood has a big goal for basketball players at his high school alma mater.
“I want my players to experience what I experienced as a player here,” he said. “I want the gyms to be absolutely full.”
Norwood, a 1981 THS graduate, played on undefeated regular season teams that advanced to the state tournament.
Fast-forward to the 2012-13 season, which begins on Saturday for the Wave when they host the Carlock Automotive Tip-Off Classic. Tupelo plays DeSoto Central at 8 p.m., with the Lady Wave playing the Jaguars at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re ready to get started, and I’m looking forward for a chance to see who does what when it’s time to play,” Norwood said.
The Wave is coming off 26-9 effort, which ended with Tupelo losing the Class 6A championship game to Jim Hill in overtime.
Tupelo must cope with the loss of six key seniors. But the Wave certainly can do that with the likes of sophomore Antonio Green, who is coming off a solid summer, and his 14-point effort against Jim Hill.
Other expected starters include senior Jordan Garmon, sophomores Isaiah Traylor, Sean Watkins, and J. J. Ashby, and junior Brice Ford. Key subs include sophomores Carter Clayton and Brian Haadsma.
“Green and Watkins are two that need to play well,” Norwood said. “I want the team to play hard, that’s the way the game is supposed to be played.”
LADY WAVE: OLDER
Last season, Lady Wave coach Matt Justice played seven freshmen. A 20-11 record was the result, and the second-year coach is expecting more return on his investment this season.
“They were trying to adjust to the speed of the game last season,” he said. “Now, they know what to expect.”
Two hard workers from last season return to help guide the Lady Wave – senior Casey Marshall and sophomore Jaleigha Polk. Marshall averaged 10.3 points and Polk 10.4.
Joining the starting lineup for Tupelo could be junior Bre Jernighan, along with sophomores Asia Partlow and Marqueesha Hoskins.
Sophomore Braxton Thomas could rotate in as a starter, with senior Zierra Long as one of the key subs.