GRENADA – After an impressive fourth quarter on Friday, Tupelo Golden Wave head coach Jeff Norwood was still his team’s toughest critic.
“I liked it because we won, but we still can play so much better,” Norwood said.
Critical or awesome, Norwood saw the Wave hold the Grenada Chargers without a field goal in the final eight minutes to help claim a 49-35 victory and the Division 2-6A Tournament championship.
As with all Class 6A and 5A division winners this season, Tupelo (22-5) gets a bye in the next round of the postseason, and are not scheduled to play again until Saturday, where they will host a playoff game.
But the road to that coveted bye was at one of the most hostile environments the Wave play at all season. On top of that, Grenada closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run to lead 32-29.
Tupelo put an extra knot in its shoelaces, then began the final period with a Jaron Hoover basket. The run continued with six straight free throws, and a Malik Douglas three-point play with 4 minutes, 33 seconds to play gave the Wave a 40-32 lead.
Eventually, Tupelo hit 11 of 12 free shots in the quarter, and Antonio Green’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds punctuated the win.
“I thought Nick Ratliff was awesome inside on the boards, he’s our backbone,” said Norwood of the team’s workman-like effort. “And so was Malik Douglas, who’s really pushed it the last half of the season.”
Green was the only player in the game in double figures with 18 points. Grenada led at the half, 21-18.
(G) Tupelo 59, Grenada 31: A sluggish first half left the game in doubt into the third quarter where Grenada pulled within 29-23.
A Jaleigha Polk basket stopped the Grenada push, then sophomore Alayjah Sherer scored 9 points to close the period as Tupelo (21-7) moved to a 46-25 lead.
“Sherer gave us a spark in the third quarter after being out of the game in foul trouble in the first half,” Lady Wave head coach Matt Justice said. “We were sluggish in the first half, but we played well defensively.”
Sherer led Tupelo with 18.
The Lady Wave are scheduled to host a playoff game Friday, after a bye Monday.
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