By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
High school post-season play is always a challenge.
The Tupelo Golden Wave and Lady Wave have the same basic challenge today in opening round play of the Division 2-6A Tournament in Batesville – beat a team for the third time this season.
The Lady Wave (19-9) play South Panola at 4 p.m., followed by the Wave (17-11) against South Panola at 5:30 p.m. The winners advance to championship games Friday, and have a berth in next week’s Class 6A North tournament.
“We’re definitely playing better than when the season started,” Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice said. “I’m pretty satisfied, but I still see the need to push the level of our game up because the playoffs are tough.
Common thinking among coaches also says that the more time a time plays the same team, the harder it is to keep beating that squad. The Lady Wave are currently 2-0 versus South Panola (2-15), having beaten the tournament hosts 66-32 on Jan. 8, and 68-36 on Jan. 22.
“I’m just trying to make sure the girls are focused,” Justice said. “It is win or go home, and I hope the girls realize that.
“Marqueesha Hoskins and Braxton Thomas have been playing well under the goal, and that has helped Casey Marshall play better of late. Against South Panola, we need to get the 50-50 balls, and set the tone on the defensive end.”
Just like the Lady Wave, the Golden Wave have defeated South Panola (11-9) twice. In Tupelo Jan. 8, they claimed a 69-38 win, but at Batesville on Jan. 22, the margin was only 56-46 in favor of the Wave.
“We will be fighting against the fact we’ve beaten them twice,” Wave head coach Jeff Norwood said. “The players need to be focusing on one team, instead of trying to see the whole tournament.”
Norwood will be looking for senior leadership from post-player Alex Foster and guard Jordan Garmon. Foster’s impact might be crucial because junior center Sean Watkins is out with a concussion.
“I need senior leadership,” Norwood said. “It’s going to be more of a guard game against South Panola.”