TUPELO – Even with two of its best players missing, Tupelo had no trouble Monday night.
Lamarah Cleaves, Halle Traylor and the rest of the Lady Wave got the job done in a 66-26 win over Murrah in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Tupelo (18-6), ranked No. 3 by the Daily Journal, will travel to Oxford on Wednesday.
The Lady Wave were without starter Mikayla Riley and key reserve Jade Rucker, both of whom are out after recently suffering torn ACLs.
“Losing two really good players has been tough, but the girls responded every time we’ve had any kind of adversity throughout the year,” coach Matt Justice said. “They’ve been able to step up and make it happen. Tonight shows the leadership of Halle and (Jaliscia) Florence and Lamarah stepping up and making sure they’re doing their part.”
Cleaves made Murrah (3-15) feel the pain in the paint, scoring 18 points, including 12 in the first quarter. The freshman also grabbed nine rebounds.
Traylor, a senior, did much of her damage from the outside, making 3 of 7 from 3-point range and scoring 15 points. She scored 10 points in the second quarter and also had four steals on the night.
Cleaves and Traylor did all that in just under three quarters of work. It was a 55-17 lead when the starters checked out with 1:55 left in the third period, by which point the Lady Wave were 23 of 44 (52.3%) from the field.
Murrah was led by Kamren Edwards, who scored 13 points.
Turning Point: Tupelo raced out to a 16-3 lead after one quarter and never let up. It was 38-9 at halftime.
Point Maker: Cleaves shot 8 of 11 from the floor, with all of her field goals coming in the lane.
Talking Point: “Me and her are best friends, so she’s gone, so I’ve got to make up for her.” – Cleaves, on Riley