By Brandon Speck
NEW ALBANY – Tupelo has won six in a row, but the sixth victory didn’t come easily for the No. 4 Golden Wave.
Tupelo got a pair of free throws from Isaiah Traylor with 2.3 seconds to play in a 56-53 win against No. 9 North Pontotoc in Saturday’s 23rd Annual Hotbed Classic.
“It was an ugly win,” Tupelo coach Jeff Norwood said. “We turned the ball over way too many times, didn’t make routine 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s.”
There was a brief official timeout in the fourth quarter for the scoreboard to be corrected.
That proved important when Marcus Green’s 3-pointer got the ninth-ranked Vikings within 54-53 with 14 seconds left.
North took a brief 30-29 lead in the third quarter on a free throw from Reid Kelly – Kelly hit 5 of 6 from the line in the quarter. But four straight points from Malik Douglas put the Wave (14-8) ahead 33-30. The bucket that ended North’s only lead came to Douglas on a nice inside dish from Traylor.
“It looked like we were playing the name Tupelo and not doing what we were supposed to do,” North Pontotoc coach Chris Pettit said. “Once we got into it, guys got engaged. I thought defensively we played really well. It was a well-fought game on both ends.”
Tupelo led 17-7 after a quarter behind a strong effort from Traylor, who scored 20 points, the only Golden Wave player to finish in double figures. He had 11 in the first, including a pair of 3s, as Tupelo closed with a 10-2 run.
“We’re doing real good. We’ve got to stick together,” Traylor said. “That’s the main thing, stick together and play together.”
The game was tied twice in the third quarter, before Tupelo closed on a 13-6 run.
Green had a game-high 21 points for North Pontotoc (13-9). Murphy Daniel added 10.