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Two sign with Itawamba Community College athletics

On Friday, two Tupelo High School student-athletes decided to make it official by continuing their education and taking their athletic talents at Itawamba Community College next Fall.

Merrie Kate Grayson and LaBryant Siddell signed on the dotted line with ICC women’s soccer and men’s baseball.

Grayson, a back-up goalkeeper for Coach Hannah Kimbrough at THS, received the Golden Wave Spirit Award for 2016-2017. She also helped guide Lady Wave soccer to a 12-2-1 overall record during her senior campaign.

Siddell, a right-handed outfielder for Tupelo baseball, finished his junior season with fantastic numbers. In 108 plate-appearances, Siddell had 33 hits, one home run, 24 RBIs, and a batting average of .384. As a left-fielder, he had only one error and a staggering fielding percentage of .933. Tupelo baseball finished 2016 with a record of 20-11 and a division title under Coach Justin Reed. Siddell also saw extensive action at running back on the football gridiron under Coach Trent Hammond his junior and senior seasons.


Four from Tupelo football ink on National Signing Day

Head coach Trent Hammond continued tradition as Golden Wave Football sends four athletes on to the next level.

Tuesday morning the four seniors made it official on National Signing Day at THS. RB/WR Donte Freeman (Itawamba Community College), DB Chris Shannon (Northwest Community College), WR Austin Watkins (Itawamba Community College), and LB Greg Williams (Northwest Community College) signed papers to their respective colleges

Donte Freeman, a 5’6″, 160 lb. running back/wide receiver, finished 2016 with 44 carries, 217 rushing yards, and five rushing TDs. He also had 33 receptions, 369 receiving yards, and four TDs.

Chris Shannon, a 6’1″, 180 lb. defensive back, capped his senior season with 24 solo tackles, assisted on eight, pass-defended ten balls, grabbed three interceptions, and blocked two FGs. In 2015, he saw action at wide receiver, and had 14 catches for 297 yards and three TDs. He also rushed 25 times for 210 yards his junior year. Shannon runs a 4.4 40-yard dash.

Austin Watkins, a 5’9″, 164 lb. wide receiver, had 17 carries, 95 rushing yards, and two TDs in 2016. Watkins also caught 31 balls, totaled 419 receiving yards, and had three TDs.

Greg Williams, a 6’1″, 190 lb. linebacker, racked up 53 solo tackles, 79 total tackles, five tackles for loss, picked up one interception, broke up five passes, recovered one fumble, and forced one fumble on the defensive line during his senior campaign.

With today’s signings, Hammond has had 25 football players sign to play on the next level since arriving at THS in 2013.


Sherer signs with East Tennessee State basketball

Tupelo guard Alayjah Sherer has had a pretty good week. She was named to the 2016-2017 Clarion-Ledger Girls Dandy Dozen last Friday, notched a game-high 37 points in a home win over 6A rival DeSoto Central Tuesday night, and officially signed with a D-I basketball program this morning.

The 5′ 10″, 174 lb. guard inked with East Tennessee State women’s basketball Wednesday. As a junior, she saw action in all 30 games for the Lady Wave and averaged 20.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.8 steals a game

“Alayjah has the ability to take over games,” says Tupelo head coach Matt Justice. “She’s one of the toughest players to guard because of her size, and I still believe we have yet to see her best work.”

East Tennessee State University Buccaneers compete in the Southern Conference and finished the 2015-2016 with 16 wins and 14 losses. ETSU is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and is the fourth largest college in the state.


Bridges goes with Meridian Community College

Jackson Bridges knew exactly what he wanted to do with his baseball future as early as the spring. It was only a matter of time before Bridges officially put it in ink.

Bridges, a 6′ 1″ 194 lb. RHP with a 2.56 ERA, signed his LOI with Meridian Community College baseball Tuesday morning. In 2015-2016, he saw action in 12 games, pitched 60 innings, walked 15, struck out 51, and had a record of 5-3 with one save.

“The experience Coach (Justin) Reed has given me has helped prepare me to pitch consistently at the next level,” said the 2016 1st Team All-Division pitcher.

The Golden Wave standout helped Tupelo (20-11) go 9-0 in division as well as a trip to the 6A MHSAA Quarterfinals last season.

Meridian CC, who competes in the MACJC, finished 39-12 and rose as high as seventh in the nation last spring.

“Meridian has a long history of winning,” said Bridges, “I look forward to being a big part of it.”


Hildenbrand goes with Delta State tennis

Andrew Hildenbrand didn’t know what was in store for his tennis future after breaking his right wrist in February. After getting a surgical plate from Dr. Bryan Fagan and an intense rehab routine by Mark Bresee, Andrew won the Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s 6A individual boy’s singles championship in Jackson last week.

On Monday, Hildenbrand signed with Delta State University men’s tennis in Cleveland, Mississippi.

“THS molded me into a team player,” said Andrew. “Leadership and maturity are big aspects I will take with me to DSU.”

Hildenbrand is no stranger to MHSAA tennis accolades. In 2014, he won the 6A individual boy’s doubles championship, and was runner-up in 2015 and 2013.

“DSU was always an option when deciding on my future. After breaking my wrist and talking to the DSU coach, I found Cleveland to be the perfect tennis location for me.”

Delta State University, an NCAA Div. II college, competes in the Gulf South Conference.



Hoover goes with Kansas Christian College

Jaron Hoover had an idea of his basketball future a few weeks ago. All he needed was the letter of intent. He received that document earlier this week.

Hoover signed with Kansas Christian College men’s basketball Thursday. The 5’3″, 185 lb guard saw important action in all 33 games for the Golden Wave this season. He said he felt a lot of weight was lifted off his shoulders when he made it official.

“KCC felt like the best fit for me,” said Hoover. “I like their coaching style. It reminds me a lot of Coach (Jeff) Norwood’s philosophy at THS.”

Tupelo finished 2015-2016 with a record of 27-6, and a trip to the 6A Semifinals in Jackson. Three other Class of 2016 members have already signed to play on the next level: Tre Jenkins, Joseph Jones, and EJ Fuller (all Itawamba Community College).

Kansas Christian College in Overland Park, KS, formerly known as Kansas City College and Bible School, will participate in intercollegiate athletics next season for the first time since 2005. The private institution is set to compete as part of the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA) and face teams from the NCCAA, NAIA, and NCAA Div. II.


Wilson digs Mississippi College volleyball

Kaitlyn Wilson knew at an early age volleyball would be a huge part of her future. From grabbing varsity minutes as a sophomore to being a team captain her senior year, Wilson has spent almost every day in the fall sharpening her defensive skills on the court. She will now take her incredible talents to Mississippi College.

On Friday, Wilson made her college decision official with Tupelo High School, teammates, and her peers. She is the sixth Lady Wave player to advance to the college level (third to the Lady Choctaws) under fifth year head coach Laurie Bishop.

“I am very familiar with the campus and coaches because of high school tournaments at Mississippi College,” said the Tupelo libero, a volleyball position that specializes in mostly defense.

Wilson played libero for the Lady Wave, but also saw action as an outside hitter early in her career. During three years on varsity, she played in 262 sets, recorded 669 digs (2.6 per set), 1,586 serve receptions, 243 kills, and 165 aces.

Last fall, Tupelo (31-9) made it to the MHSAA Class III quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion DeSoto Central.

Mississipi College is located in Clinton and competes in the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference.


Tupelo trio sign with ICC basketball

Itawamba Community College head men’s coach Grant Pate is getting three out of five Tupelo basketball starters in Fulton next fall.

Joseph Jones, Tre Jenkins, and EJ Fuller signed letters of intent to ICC Friday morning. The three Golden Wave athletes helped their team reach the MHSAA 6A semifinals in Jackson last month.

Jones, a 6’1″, 165 lb guard, averaged 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and .5 steals in all 33 games. In the first game of the Tupelo season, Jones scored a game-high 22 points against Okolona. During his junior season, he was also selected to MaxPreps’s Dunks of the Year in with a monster And-1 slam versus Aberdeen.

Jenkins, a 6’2″, 165 lb guard, capped his senior campaign playing in all 33 contests while averaging 15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He was also selected to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal All-Area 1st team and the Clarion-Ledger’s #MSPreps All-State 4th team.

Fuller, a 6’3″, 170 lb forward who also played in all 33 games, found his shooting stroke mid-way through his senior year. He finished the season averaging 9.2 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. EJ also received MaxPreps Player of the Game seven times during 2015-2016.

Tupelo finished No. 3 in the final #MSPreps Super 10 poll of the season.



Jenkins commits to ICC basketball

Tre Jenkins took a few weeks after falling to Starkville in the MHSAA 6A semifinals back in March to think about his future in basketball. It didn’t take long before he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

On Wednesday, the 6’2″, 165 lb guard from Tupelo verbally committed to Itawamba Community College men’s basketball in Fulton. Jenkins joins Golden Wave teammate EJ Fuller, who committed to ICC last month.

“When I took my visit to ICC, I loved how the atmosphere felt when I walked in the gym,” said Jenkins. “I’ve always wanted to play for Coach Pate.”

Jenkins capped his senior campaign playing in all 33 contests while averaging 15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He was also selected to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal All-Area 1st team and the Clarion-Ledger’s #MSPreps All-State 4th team. Tupelo finished No. 3 in the final #MSPreps Super 10 poll of the season.

Grant Pate, who guided Tupelo basketball to the 6A finals in 2012, took the ICC men’s job in Fulton in the spring of 2012. The Indians finished last season 11-8 and 4-4 in MACJC North.


Tupelo announces 2016 football schedule

Head coach Trent Hammond is preparing for six home and five away games in 2016. On the other hand, the Golden Wave will travel to four division opponents and host three. Hammond, who will be entering his fourth season at Tupelo, went 6-6 in 2015, and has guided the Wave to the playoffs each season.

  • Tupelo will open the season hosting 5A Clarksdale August 19th. Last season, Clarksdale beat Tupelo, 28-25.
  • 4A Corinth comes to Tupelo August 26th. In 2015, Tupelo defeated the Warriors, 24-14.
  • Longtime in-county rival 4A Shannon will host the Golden Wave September 2nd. THS won last season, 55-16.
  • 6A South foe Brandon visits Renasant Field September 9th. The Bulldogs beat Tupelo 41-17 last year.
  • Tupelo will be open in Week 5.
  • Tupelo opens division play at home September 23rd with Hernando. THS won 31-17 in 2015.
  • The Wave travels to Columbus September 30th. The Falcons won 33-9 last season.
  • Southaven welcomes THS October 7th. Southaven defeated Tupelo in OT in 2015, 13-7.
  • South Panola comes to town October 14th. The Tigers blanked the Wave in 2015, 35-0.
  • THS will travel to DeSoto Central October 21st. THS beat DC last season, 34-32.
  • Tupelo Senior Night will feature Horn Lake October 28th. The Wave won at Horn Lake last year, 34-13.
  • Tupelo concludes the regular season at Olive Branch November 4th. THS outlasted OB 25-28 in 2015.