By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
Certainly, the ultimate goal Tupelo head coach Matt Justice has in mind for his Lady Wave begins with success in Division 2-6A play.
That begins Jan. 4 at Columbus.
The Lady Wave get to warm up for their division tests beginning today in the Hattiesburg Tournament against Natchez at 3 p.m.
“I’m just hoping we compete,” said Justice, whose Lady Wave will play either Hattiesburg or Moss Point on Friday, and another game Saturday. “There will be a lot of talent down there, and we’ll be looking to get some momentum going into division play.”
The young Lady Wave (7-5), who have five underclassmen in their top seven rotation, have already shown flashes of momentum during the young season.
In one week of November, Tupelo downed defending Class 4A champion Pontotoc and defending Class 5A title holder Oxford, which had combined 67-0 records last season.
Leading the Lady Wave so far in scoring is senior Casey Marshall and sophomore Jaleigha Polk, both averaging 15.0 points per game.
But on a team that starts three sophomores, Tupelo has also had its share of bumps, currently on a three-game losing streak that includes losses to Ripley and Southaven, the state’s top-ranked team.
“So far we’ve grown since the start of the season,” Justice said. “We’ve played a lot of tough competition.
“We need consistency across the board, not just playing the first quarter. Now we’re ready to see what we can do in division.”
The Tupelo boys (7-6) are also looking to build toward division play, facing Prentiss today at 1:30 p.m., then either Brandon or Oak Grove Friday in the three-day tournament.
“We’re getting closer to learning each other,” Tupelo first-year head coach Jeff Norwood said. “We’re getting past being young.
“It’s basically a new year, and more will be expected. We’re going to go harder and be sharper.”
On a team hit by graduation loses after reaching the Class 6A championship game last season, the tough task of leading an inexperienced squad on the court has fallen to sophomore Antonio Green, who is averaging 14.9 points per game. Post play has highlighted Tupelo play at times, with junior Sean Watkins (9.0 ppg) and senior Alex Foster (7.3 ppg) the next highest scorers on the team behind Green.