Tupelo Wave boys crank up tempo for homecourt win

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Columbus coach Sammy Smith prefers a slower pace. Tupelo’s Jeff Norword is more of an uptempo guy.
In Wednesday’s Division 2-6A rematch on the Golden Wave’s court, Tupelo’s Norwood forced Smith’s visiting Falcons to play at his speed. The end result was a 62-51 victory for the Golden Wave.
In their first meeting at Columbus, the Falcons captured a low-scoring win, 42-37.
“We know they don’t like to play fast,” Norwood said. “Sammy’s more of a grind it, grind it guy.”
Tupelo (12-9, 2-2), which led 26-20 at halftime, blew open the contest in the third quarter by outscoring Columbus 23-10 to take a commanding 49-30 lead. The Golden Wave actually led by as many as 23 points earlier in the quarter.
The Golden Wave’s balanced attack saw seven players contribute points in the third quarter.
One of those, Sam Watkins, scored six of his team-high 14 in the period, including two on a dunk that gave Tupelo its 23-point advantage, 49-26.
“I was blessed to be ahead at the half, but I told the guys I wanted them to play a lot harder in the second half,” Norwood said.
‘the better team’
Columbus (10-6, 3-2) scored just four field goals in the third quarter and two of those came in the final 30 seconds.
“We’ve got to be able to play our tempo on the road and we didn’t,” Smith said. “Tupelo was the better team tonight.”
The Falcons rallied in the fourth quarter and cut Tupelo’s lead to 10 points, 59-49, on a putback by Devin Berry with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining.
Berry, who finished with a game-high 21 points, fouled out moments later.
(G) Tupelo 75, Columbus 52: Casey Marshall scored 18, Jaleigha Polk 15, Bre Jernigan 14 and Marqueesha Hoskins 11 to lead Tupelo.
The Lady Wave (13-8, 3-1) now leads the division with two games remaining. The win avenged a disappointing 50-49 loss at Columbus.
“We played with passion, like we were behind the entire game,” Tupelo coach Matt Justice said. “We played our basketball for four straight quarters.”
The Falcons’ big gun, Kiki Patterson scored 15 points, far below the 31 she had in the first meeting.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com