South Panola lose nailbitters to Tupelo
By Brad Greer
If Tupelo had nine lives they used them all up in Tuesday’s District 2-6A boys battle against homestanding South Panola.
With the Tigers leading 50-46 in the closing minute, the Golden Wave converted two costly turnovers into points before freshman Keodra Hampton converted a game-winning layup with 2.6 seconds remaining to give Tupelo a 52-50 victory.
Tupelo improved to 15-5 and 1-1 in district play while South Panola, who was looking for its first win over the Golden Wave since 2013 fell to 0-2 and 5-6 overall.
Deronte Thomas paced the Tigers with a season-high 23 points which included five three-pointers. Kendricus Carlton added 17 points with 10 coming in the second half.
Thomas’s back-to-back treys gave South Panola a 48-44 lead with 2:06 remaining in the contest. Jett Johnson, a Mississippi State football signee, knocked down two free throws to cut the Tiger margin to 48-46.
After trading field goals, Hampton’s layup following a South Panola turnover tied the contest at 50-50 with 59 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, the Tigers milked the clock down for a potential game-winning shot but Carlton’s shot rimed out into the hands of Tupelo’s Lamar Patton who threw a strike down court to Hampton for the game-winner.
South Panola’s last gasp at victory fell on deaf ears as a Thomas three-pointer was blocked as the final horn sounded.
The Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead on treys by Shaquille Jackson and Thomas, but it quickly evaporated as Tupelo reeled off 11 straight points to grab an 11-6 advantage. South Panola ended the first quarter with a fury by scoring the last five points for a 11-11 deadlock.
Both teams went back and forth in the second quarter as South Panola surged ahead 23-17 on Carlton’s bank shot at the 3:13 mark. Tupelo retaliated with six unanswered points to knott the contest at 23-23 with 1:31 left in the half.
Baskets by Thomas and Nick Porter in the closing minutes gave South Panola a 27-23 lead at intermission.
Porter chipped in with four points while Jackson and Keith Cole added three each for South Panola.
Tupelo (girls)-52 South Panola-47
Sara Friloux garnered 19 points as the Lady Golden Wave improved to 2-0 in district play and 13-5 overall by holding off South Panola.
Chole Morgan led South Panola (5-9;1-1) with 14 points, 13 of which coming in the fourth quarter. Marshala Doyle chipped in with 13 first-half points.
Doyle came out on fire by scoring 11 of the Tigers 13 points in the first quarter. Tupelo led 14-13 after the first period but held South Panola to one field goal in the second quarter to take a 23-18 advantage at halftime.
The Golden Wave pushed its lead to nine points four times in the second half but could not shake South Panola as the Tigers clawed their way back in the fourth quarter to within four points.
Morgan was a perfect five of five from the floor in the fourth quarter and added two free throws to cut Tupelo’s lead to 45-40 at the 1:40 mark.
Janiah Hinton sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds remaining to make the score 47-42.
Takyra Webster registered eight points while Kaniya Ford finished with seven. Tamaya Williams contributed with three points while Aziyah McGhee suppiled two points.
Tupelo JV (boys)-36 South Panola-17
Stanwon Porter paced South Panola with six points in a losing effort. Isaac Sturdivant added four while Winston Winfield and Keith Cole garnered two points each. Eldridge Brooks finished with one point.
South Panola JV (girls)-16 Tupelo-14 OT
Khalena Hentz scored the game-winning basket in overtime as South Panola salvaged one game on the day.
KeAmber Jackson paced the Lady Tigers with six points.
South Panola travels to Grenada today, weather permitting, in a non-district game starting at 4 p.m.
The Lady Tigers will then take part ,also weather permitting in the Lafayette County tournament Saturday morning at 11 a.m as the take on Madison Ridgeland Academy.