Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanoss — All four coaches involved in Tuesday night’s Tupelo-Vanoss basketball matchups had wishes they would have liked to see come true.
New Vanoss girls coach Dillon Snow wanted to see his team continue to play solid defense and score some points.
Vanoss boys coach Jon Hurt wanted his team to bounce back from a surprising 20-point home loss to Stonewall last week.
New Tupelo girls coach Shawn Reeves, who spent 15 years at Vanoss as a coach and teacher, was hoping for a happy homecoming.
And Tupelo boys coach Clay Weller wanted his team’s shots to start falling.
As it turned out, only the Vanoss coaches had their wishes granted.
In the boys contest, the Tigers shot just 28.6 percent from the field and were outscored 14-7 in a pivotal fourth quarter at Vanoss eased to a 52-43 win.
In the girls contest, Vanoss never allowed Tupelo to score more than seven points in a quarter during a 42-24 victory.
After the dust had settled, all four teams involved had identical 3-2 records.
Vanoss 52, Tupelo 43
Hurt watched his team score just 27 total points in the loss to Stonewall and by halftime against Tupelo, Vanoss had carved out a 26-17 lead.
“It was a much better effort. and we played smarter at both end of the floor,” Hurt said.
The Tigers were able to overcome an early shooting slump, but another one in the fourth quarter proved to be Tupelo’s downfall.
Tupelo missed its first 10 shots from the field as Vanoss built a 7-0 lead. But the Tigers reeled off an 11-2 surge to go on top 11-9 early in the second period.
The pendulum swung back the VHS way as Vanoss finished the rest of the second period on a 17-6 run that was capped by six straight points from backup post player Ricky Hall, which gave the hosts a nine-point lead at intermission.
The Tigers scored 19 third-quarter points to grab a 36-34 lead on a jumper by John Umsted with just over two minutes left in the period. But Hall answered again with back-to-back buckets inside to give the Wolves a 38-36 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
The Tupelo offense went cold again, missing another 10 shots in a row (their final attempt of the third quarter and first nine of the fourth). That allowed Vanoss to score the first nine points of the fourth frame to build a 47-36 advantage. Tupelo would make just 18-of-63 field goals in the contest.
Hurt, who went 11 deep in the game, said a lineup change to start the fourth quarter finally helped his team get some breathing room.
“I went back with a group of guys that had been playing well all night,” he said. “We’re going to have to have more of a contribution from our bench. They’re good enough to contribute, and they’re going to have to start playing better.”
The Wolves’ dominance in the paint proved to be the difference. Starting center Dayton Phillips and Hall, in a reserve role, combined for 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Phillips scored 15 points to go with seven rebounds, while Hall added 12. Vanoss also sank 5-of-12 3-point attempts, including a pair by Jake Grimm.
“My bigs finally played like they’re supposed to play every night. Hopefully that will continue,” Hurt said.
Umsted led Tupelo with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Corey McCollum followed with nine points and 10 boards.
Up next for Vanoss is a home date with defending Class 2A state champion Latta next Tuesday.
“Latta is a well-coached team with good players. We’re going to have to play a really solid game. But we’ll compete. It will be a fun game,” Hurt said.
Vanoss 42, Tupelo 24
The Lady Tigers never got untracked offensively, as Vanoss raced to first-half leads of 11-2 and 23-9.
Kurston Chamberlain drained a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to get Tupelo within 23-12 at the break.
“I was proud of the intensity and effort we came out with. Overall, it was a good win at home to improve to 3-0 in our conference,” Snow said.
The Lady Tigers never got closer than nine in the third quarter, as Vanoss used a 13-7 run to take a 36-19 lead into the final period.
Snow was especially proud of his team’s 41-27 rebounding edge, led by Caylin Ballard with eight. Toni Prince added seven rebounds to go with nine points.
“I thought we played well defensively. We are rebounding much better and have started understanding how to get in good position as soon as a shot goes up,” he said.
VHS guard Crystal Frederick scored on several drives to the basket and hit both of her 3-point attempts to finish with a game-high 12 points.
Phylisha Chamberlain finished with nine points, six rebounds and four steals to pace Tupelo’s team.
A whopping 13 "jump balls" were called in the game, and the two teams combined for 42 turnovers.
Snow knows his team is in for a tough matchup when a talented Latta girls team visits next Tuesday.
“We are going to have to play really good defense, limit them to one shot and block out. If we turn the ball over, it won’t be pretty. Latta is a good fundamental team, and they don’t beat themselves,” he said. “Latta will be the best team we have played so far. It’s going to be a tough one, but it’s games like these that prepare you for the post season.”
Meanwhile, both Tupelo teams travel to Stonewall Friday night.