By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – Mooreville held a 10-9 lead after the first quarter of Tuesday’s Class 3A playoff game at Booneville.
However, that was without Tre Welch scoring a point.
When Welch did score, Booneville began to click, eventually running away to a 67-42 victory over the Troopers.
Welch dropped a game-high 23 points, 19 in the second half, to lead the Blue Devils to the 3A North tournament, where they will face the winner of Cleveland East Side on Thursday at Corinth High School.
“He took some real good shots tonight,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said of his senior. “They were basically packed in and not guarding him, and he hit some great shots.”
Welch’s first two baskets of the game came within 18 seconds of each other. After knocking down a jumper, Welch recorded the first of seven steals and finished with a layup on the other end to put Booneville up 18-12.
Following Keldrick Lesley’s buzzer-beating layup to put Booneville (23-7) up 25-20 at halftime, the Blue Devils took control of the game in the second half with defensive pressure.
The result of Booneville’s full court man-to-man defense: 13 steals in the contest and over 20 Mooreville turnovers.
“To beat that you have to keep your head up and see that secondary pass,” Mooreville coach Jeff Tally said, “And we didn’t see it.”
Welch continued his hot streak in the third quarter, scoring nine points in the quarter. Welch’s ninth point, a three pointer from the left key, started a 7-0 run with under a minute left for Booneville that put them up 47-35 at the end of the quarter.
The Booneville guard carried his hot shooting into the fourth, beginning the quarter with another 3-pointer. Welch’s three sparked a 14-6 run by Booneville that put the game out of reach for the Troopers.
Lesley finished with 20 points and Kenny Paul Geno added 10 for Booneville. Quadzing Rogers (13) was the only double-digit scorer for Mooreville (19-11).