Tupelo — With his team clinging to a four-point lead over visiting Stringtown with just over four minutes to go, first-year Tupelo girls coach Shawn Reeves shouted, “Go shoot a layup,” while trying to get the Lady Tigers to start running a deliberate, slow-paced offense.
Just moments after those instructions, junior Brittany Sanders buried a 3-pointer that gave Tupelo some much-needed breathing room. The trey helped key a decisive 21-2 game-ending run as the host Lady Tigers pulled away for a 52-33 victory.
“It was a good thing that shot went in. I probably wouldn’t have been very happy if she had missed it,” Reeves said following the game.
Reeves and company started the season at 1-0, while the visiting Lady Tigers left town at 1-1.
In the boys game, junior Corey McCollum — despite battling foul trouble all night — finished with an impressive double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds to help the Tigers sting Stringtown 47-33.
Coach Clay Weller’s team also started 1-0, while the Stringtown boys fell to 1-1.
It was a nice start for McCollum, who looks to bounce back after an injury-plagued 2012-13 season.
“Corey is going to go after the boards. He played well,” Weller said. “After missing last year, he’s excited to play this year.”
Tupelo is back at home Friday, hosting Wanette.
Tupelo 52, Stringtown 33
Amber Crabtree hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that knotted the score at 31-31 for the fifth time. Up to that point, the biggest lead of the game had been four points.
Sophomore Phyisha Chamberlain scored in the paint for the final points of the third quarter to give Tupelo a slim 33-31 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Chamberlain’s bucket started the huge Tupelo surge.
Sanders followed her trifecta by scoring three the conventional way — hitting a layup, much to Reeves’ delight, and connecting on a free throw that followed that put Tupelo on top 41-31, the first double-digit gap of the game. Sanders would finish her big night with 17 points and 10 rebounds.