By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
RIPLEY – The Booneville Blue Devils are getting used to seeing plenty of good game plans designed to slow them down.
Most teams have a devil of a time making those plans work for four quarters.
The Ripley Tigers give it a good go early, but Booneville’s constant precise execution eventually won out Friday for a 75-50 Division 1-3A victory.
“Ripley has improved as much as any team in the area since the season started, and the game was a lot closer than the score shows,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “We stretched it out late.”
Ripley (18-6, 2-2) had a nice tempo going to begin the first quarter as a pair of Malik Pearson baskets moved the home team to a 9-4 lead over the defending Class 3A state champions.
No sweat for the title holders.
Eventually, Booneville (22-3, 5-0) closed the period on a 14-2 run. Jack Nichols had a pair of field goals during that span, and Keldrick Lesley ended the run in the final seconds with a layup for a 22-13 lead.
Ripley tried to recover, but Booneville kept stretching its margin a little bit here and a little bit there to eventually claim the win, and wrap up the No. 1 seed in the 1-3A tournament.
“We shared the ball really well tonight,” Smith said. “When we move the ball, and are unselfish, that’s good for us.
“We’ve still got to get better, but we’re starting to understand our roles.”
Kenny Paul Geno led four Devils in double figures with 17 points, while Canaan Ratliff hit 20 for Ripley.
“We started the ball game attacking the basket, going to the rim,” Ripley coach Grant Gardner said. “But as the game went on, we got too dependent on the outside shot. Booneville did a good job taking away the lane, and a good job being patient.”
Ripley has a chance Tuesday to wrap up the No. 2 spot in the division, and a first-round tournament bye, against Belmont.
(G) Ripley 71, Booneville 55: The Lady Devils came out clicking, establishing a 14-10 first quarter lead, then clinging to a 33-32 halftime margin.
But Ripley’s Becca Ruckes had the situation under control. The senior finished with 42 points and 12 rebounds for Ripley (22-2, 4-0), while Jasmine Allen hit 23 for Booneville.