Special to the Journal
TUPELO – Is the Tupelo Lady Wave basketball team ready for the next step?
Answers will start coming quickly as Northeast Mississippi schools that play football have been able to conduct full practices after school since Oct. 21, including the Lady Wave.
“The question is are we ready for the stage,” Tupelo Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice said. “I think if we don’t win the division, it will be a huge letdown.
“And I think we can get to the Jackson floor.”
The reason for the lofty goals by Justice lies with seven juniors on the 10-girl roster. A core of those juniors led by Jaleigha Polk, Marqueesha Hoskins, Braxton Thomas, and Asia Partlow, have been playing, if not starting, since they were freshmen.
“We’re definitely a different team than two years ago when they were all freshmen,” Justice said. “I think they’re finally realizing what the expectations are.
“And they not only see the goals, but they want the goals.”
Both Tupelo’s boys and girls teams will open their seasons Nov. 12 hosting the Tupelo Tip-Off Classic, specifically with the girls wanting to improve on back-to-back 20-11 seasons. And most importantly, the Lady Wave want to host and win a first round game in the North Mississippi Tournament, after two consecutive road losses during that round of the playoffs.
“Everyone is expecting us to do well, and we’re preparing as a team for that,” senior guard Bre Jernigan said. “We’ve got to be able to overcome adversity during the season, and make sure our chemistry is right.”
Second-year head coach Jeff Norwood is also expecting better things from his Golden Wave, coming off a 17-12 season a year ago.
“I’m expecting us to be a better team, and hopefully that translates into more wins,” Norwood said. “I just want us to play hard and be a team, and I think we’re up for it.”
Norwood is looking for leadership from the likes of seniors J. J. Ashby and Isaiah Traylor, and junior Antonio Green.