By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
NETTLETON – While a star point guard was leading the Nettleton Lady Tigers on the court last season, a group of underclassmen were learning and biding their time.
Now a group of six seniors have paced the Lady Tigers to some early season success so far in 2011-12.
The Lady Tigers continued their strong play Tuesday, moving past the Booneville Lady Devils 80-59.
“I think most people thought that when you lose a player the caliber of Cambry Jones, you’re not going to be as good the next year,” said Nettleton coach Derrick Sharp of last season’s senior leader of the Lady Tigers. “But this group has learned a lot over the years, and we’re under the radar right now.”
Nettleton (9-2) was a major blip this contest for Booneville, exploding to a 24-5 first quarter lead behind 10 points from Tiona Cannon. Using its athleticism to its advantage, Nettleton continued its strong play in the second quarter to lead 39-24 at the half.
“We started off playing pretty well, and our pressure was effective,” Sharp said. “And Cannon was making 3 after 3 after 3.”
Booneville also can shoot from the outside, connecting eight times from 3-point range in the final three quarters, and keeping the Lady Devils hanging around. With 6 minutes, 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, a DeShiya Agnew layup pulled Booneville within 57-46.
But that was as close as Nettleton allowed the contest to get as a Cannon 3-pointer halted Booneville’s momentum.
Cannon led Nettleton with 24 points, while Jasmine Allen was tops for Booneville with 22.
(B) Booneville 80, Nettleton 47: The Blue Devils (10-1) were all business from the opening tip.
Booneville ran off a 16-0 spurt to begin the game, with Kenny Paul Geno rattling the rim with dunks that bookending the run.
Booneville led 23-4 after the first quarter, and was never challenged the rest of the way.
“That’s the best we’ve played at both ends of the court all year, especially the first quarter,” said Booneville coach Michael Smith of the defending 3A state champion. “You can always get better.
“I’m just proud the kids are playing hard, and trying to do things right.”
Jake Hall pace Booneville with 13, and Zach Ross and Odarious Lowe totaled 14 each for Nettleton.