By Gene Phelp/NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo’s basketball teams didn’t exactly head into Friday’s Division 2-6A openers against Columbus on a roll.
The Lady Wave and Golden Wave, both losers to Aberdeen on Tuesday, returned to the home court rejuvenated and spanked the visiting Falcons – Lady Wave 54-46 and the Golden Wave 60-56.
“I wasn’t pleased with our effort against Aberdeen, so I told my players we were basically starting over,” Lady Wave coach Stephanie Murphy said. “We played a lot of people, looking for who was going to play hard … who was going to fight for us.”
Kari Copeland, a senior who missed division play last year after suffering a season-ending knee injury, was one who answered the call. She scored 13 points, including a putback on a reverse layup to give Tupelo a 33-32 at the end of the third period.
“That’s the best game I’ve every played,” she said. “We were feeding off Coach Murphy. She was hyped for the game.”
Amber Jackson, another senior, scored nine of her 11 points in the second half for the Wave (10-5, 1-0).
Sophomore wing Elise Friloux hit three second-half 3-pointers and senior Aftan Goree helped Tupelo take its largest lead, 48-36 with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining.
Goree’s layup gave the Wave its 12-point advantage. Both players scored nine points.
Kiki Patterson paced Columbus (9-8, 0-2) with 19 points.
Tupelo boys coach Grant Pate prepared his team for a physical game and they didn’t let him down.
“Columbus is physical and plays hard,” he said. “It was a grind-it-out game, which created a slow pace. It was like two running games in football.
“I was proud of our guys coming off that tough defeat.”
Bench players respond
Deontaye Ewing led the Golden Wave (13-6, 1-0) with 17 points, but it was the effort of the bench players that impressed the coach.
Byrne Marshall, a former starter, connected on a crucial 3-pointer to give Tupelo a 50-44 lead early in the fourth period.
The Wave also got solid relief performances in the second half from sophomores Chaz Jones and Romeo Johnson, and junior Devontaye Morris.
“I thought those guys did a good job staying focused,” Pate said. “I’m proud of them.”
Jeremy Foster, a starter, scored five of his nine points in the final 2 minutes and blocked a late shot attempt by the Falcons to help seal the four-point win.
“This was a big game for us,” Foster said. “You want to start the division 1-0.”
Akeem Toppin scored 19 points and Bobby Wrench 15 for Columbus (9-8, 0-2).