TUPELO • The Tupelo boys basketball team used a huge post presence to survive a big scare on Tuesday night.
No. 1-ranked Tupelo beat Booneville, 59-49, behind Josh Mitchell and Keyshawn Ward in the post. Mitchell finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Ward finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, which tied season highs for Ward.
Both players scored six points in the fourth quarter as Tupelo (9-1) pulled away.
“This is the first game my mom got to come see me, so I wanted to shine for her,” Ward said. “I love having Josh there because it opens me up in the post. Our jobs are to back each other up and we’re a dynamic duo.”
Booneville (3-1) started the game hot from 3-point range. Four players hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter, and Booneville led 18-8 going into the second. Booneville’s Bryton Smith then came out of the game due to a lingering back injury, and Tupelo turned on the jets.
The Golden Wave outscored the Blue Devils 22-7 in the second quarter and held Booneville to only one 3-pointer. Tupelo led 30-25 at halftime.
“Early in the game when we didn’t get there and get our hands in their face, they made their shots,” Tupelo coach Jeff Norwood said. “As the game wore on, it’s hard to keep making those shots. You have to chase us, try to trap us, then try to run down there and make the shot. That’s difficult.”
The teams traded leads in the third quarter, but a late dunk by Mitchell gave Tupelo a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, Mitchell and Ward helped finish off Booneville with a 16-4 run in the last five minutes.
(G) Tupelo 58, Booneville 20: Halle Traylor scored 31 points to help keep the Lady Wave (10-0) undefeated on the season. Booneville (2-2) was held scoreless until 3:09 in the second quarter.
Turning Point: Up four points with 2:03 left, Booneville turned the ball over on two straight possessions and allowed Tupelo to go up by eight points with 1:11 left.
Point Man: Booneville’s Trey McKinney finished with 22 points and hit three 3-pointers.
Talking Point: “That was silly. It was nothing they did, it was more of a disorganization on our part and we made some poor decisions. We turned the ball over 10 times, and that’s pretty good against them, but they were at bad times and they made us pay for them.” – Booneville coach Michael Smith, on the back-to-back turnovers.