By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Many Northeast Mississippi basketball are taking advantage of holiday scheduling to “springboard” their way into important January play.
The Tupelo Golden Wave and Lady Wave are no different with games in Missouri and New Albany on tap.
“We think this week will help springboard us into the rest of the season,” boys coach Grant Pate said. “We have a tough schedule coming back.”
The Golden Wave (8-4) begin play today in the Poplar Bluff (Mo.) Showdown at 5:30 p.m. against Sylvan Hills (Ark.). Today’s opponent features 6-foot-4 guard Archie Goodwin, a Kentucky signee, and the Wave are guaranteed three games in this tournament.
“We’re not where we want to be as far as our record,” said Pate, whose Wave suffered some key graduation loses from last season. “But we certainly want to peak at the right time.
“We want to maintain our leadership, and establish our identity defensively, really focus and challenge our guys to step up.”
Seniors Rashon Coleman (16.4 points per game) and Dajon Reno (11.5 ppg) lead the Wave offensively.
With an eye-popping seven freshmen on its Class 6A roster, the Lady Wave (9-4) could certainly have played it safe the early part of the season.
First-year head coach Matt Justice has not done that, already having played undefeated Pontotoc twice, as an example.
“We’re working to where we want to be for division games,” Justice said. “Our youth is starting to grow up a bit.”
The Lady Wave jump back into play Thursday in the Renasant Bank Girls Challenge in New Albany against Hickory Flat at 6 p.m.
“We’ve got to work on our rebounding, and we’ve got to finish and execute at the basket,” Justice said. “In January, if we correct these, we’ll be all right.”
The Lady Wave are led offensively by senior guard Antoinette Riddle (16.5 ppg), whom Justice calls the “heart and sole of the team.” Senior Faith Cook (11.9) and freshman Jaleigha Polk (10.9) are some of Tupelo’s other threats, with junior Casey Marshall key in numerous roles.