Tupelo wins it inside and out

BY BRAD LOCKE
Daily Journal

WEST POINT – A drop-step here, a turn-around jumper there, and Santez Johnson was back in his groove.

Thus, so was Tupelo.

Johnson scored 21 points, and the Golden Wave snapped a two-game losing spell with a 73-40 victory against West Point on Friday night.

Tupelo's girls, ranked No. 1 by the Daily Journal, also won handily, 68-40.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound junior, had struggled in close losses to Corinth and New Albany last week, but he was unstoppable against an undersized West Point squad.

West Point's wispy Miguel Price never stood a chance against Johnson, who shot 10-of-12 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. Johnson held Price to one point.

“I told them their zone would encourage us to take a lot of 3s, and I told them we couldn't do that because we had a big advantage inside,” Tupelo head coach David Ball said. “We wanted to establish the big boys, and I thought our guards did a great job of getting the ball inside against the zone.”

Johnson hit all four of his shots in the second half. THS drained its first nine shots of the third period.

Forward Paul Kohlheim also had his way inside, scoring 11 points. Guard G.T. McCullough had 11 as well, and he led the team with eight rebounds, including six off the offensive glass.

Those extra chances helped Tupelo shoot 46.9 percent from the floor, including 53.2 percent through three quarters.

Tupelo (6-3), ranked No. 6 in the area, ran out to a 12-2 lead thanks to turnovers on West Point's first three possessions. The Golden Wave led 37-16 at halftime and never let the Green Wave back in the game.

West Point (1-8) shot 28.8 percent and committed 26 turnovers.

“They give you trouble if you don't come out and establish your game, and tonight I kind of thought we did that,” Ball said. “We just frustrated them, didn't let them settle down and get going offensively.”

A Brent Baxter free throw gave Tupelo its largest lead, 69-30, with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game.

Chauncey Witherspoon's seven assists paced Tupelo, and Brian Reynolds made four steals.

Dee Dee Young led West Point with 17 points, while Teddy Lenoir had 11.

(G) Tupelo 68, West Point 40

Tacarra Harris scored 23 points as the Lady Golden Wave moved to 9-0.

Twelve of Harris' points came in the first half, which helped counteract Tupelo's early haggard play. The Lady Wave held a 31-18 halftime edge.

The Wave looked crisper in the second half, scoring 18 points in the third period.

“Tacarra Harris did a good job the first half, a lot of points early and kept us in the game,” head coach Nanci Gray said. “The press worked a lot better later in the game.”

Jasmine Larry added 11 points for Tupelo, while Natasha Berry had 10. Katie Hancock snagged 10 rebounds.

Ebony Fears' 17 points led West Point (6-5).