Tupelo hosting prep tourney

By David Wheeler

Special to the Journal

It was such a good idea, it is being done two nights in a row.

Only today, high school basketball teams get their turn on the floor of the BancorpSouth Arena.

Following in the wake Friday’s Mississippi State college contest, there will be six high school basketball games in the Cross Town Challenge presented by TupeloSports.net.

“We have this facility, and it’s not too often we get to have high school basketball in it,” said Seth Gaines, Sports Development Director for the Tupelo Visitors and Convention Bureau. “Because the floor was down, we decided to try to have the high schools, too.”

Tipoff

Play begins at 11 a.m. with four boys and two girls matchups.

Action tips off with Itawamba AHS Indians and Pine Grove boys, followed by Florence-Alcorn Central girls at 12:45 p.m., Carbon Hill (Ala.)-Shannon boys at 2:30 p.m., Tupelo-Belmont girls at 4:15 p.m., Olive Branch-Florence boys at 6 p.m., and Tupelo-Sumter Central (Al.) at 7:45 p.m.

“I think the team is excited to play on a larger stage,” said Tupelo Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice. “Especially playing a really good team like Belmont.”

The Lady Wave (7-0) have three girls averaging in double figures scoring. Junior Jaleigha Polk is at 13.0 points per game, senior Bre Jernighan is at 12.5, and junior Braxton Thomas is at 11.5.

The Belmont Lady Cardinals are one of the more tradition-rich programs in Northeast Mississippi, having most recently won Class 3A state championships in 2010 and 12. The Lady Cardinals were 21-10 last year.

“Basketball in The Hills was a passion of mine growing up,” said Gaines, a Union County native. “A tournament like this gives some teams something to look forward to.”