PONTOTOC • Tupelo’s opponents continue to throw a 2-3 zone at them, and it’s taking some getting used to.

That’s what No. 2-ranked Pontotoc showed against the top-ranked Lady Wave on Friday night. And after being held to 25 first-half points, Tupelo (7-2) figured it out in the second half to edge out a 63-56 win.

“We’ve seen it the last three games, and we’ve grown from it,” Tupelo coach Matt Justice said. “The last two games we’ve started focusing on it more, and the girls are starting to attack it more.”

Tupelo was 2 of 13 from 3-point range at the half, and star junior Mikayla Riley was held scoreless in the first half in just her second game of the season after recovering from a torn ACL late last season.

Riley sparked a 26-point third quarter that gave the Lady Wave the lead for the rest of the night. Riley drilled two of Tupelo’s four treys in the period and scored nine of her 12 points out of the break for a 51-46 lead entering the fourth.

“I got my energy back up,” said Riley. “My teammates passed the ball, we got it moving, and eventually they got in man (defense) because I was knocking shots down.”

Pontotoc (5-3) trailed by one midway through the fourth but went in a funk, going scoreless for over three minutes while Tupelo stretched the lead to eight with just over two minutes left.

The Lady Warriors struggled to rebound of their zone look, and the Lady Wave became the aggressors on the glass by securing 21 offensive boards, with several coming in crucial moments in the fourth.

Lamarah Cleaves, who scored a team-high 18 points, also grabbed eight rebounds – six coming on offense.

“She single-handedly really hurt us on the boards,” Pontotoc coach Kyle Heard said. “She was the difference in the game, in my opinion.”

Pontotoc shot 48.7% from the field, while Tupelo shot just 36%. Allie Beckley had 13 points for the Lady Warriors.

(B) Tupelo 87, Pontotoc 73

The top-ranked Golden Wave (8-1) had four players in double figures: Dayveon Anderson (17), Gavin Shannon (14), Hayes Halbert (13) and London Fields (12).

Pontotoc (2-6) was led by 26 points from Tyler Shepard. Jaylen Edwards added 19 and Jack Sansing 18.


Turning Point: With Tupelo up one, Cleaves and Riley combined for a 7-0 run to build a 60-52 lead with 2:19 to play in the game.

Point Maker: Pontotoc’s Samya Brooks scored 26 points on 8 of 15 shooting and 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.

Talking Point: “We knew tonight was going to be about the rebounds. We knew at some point that’s where the game was going to be won.” – Justice

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