Blue Devils advance to Friday’s 1-3A finals

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Booneville may have needed big man Kenny Paul Geno to get whistled for a technical foul.
It didn’t hurt the Blue Devils, a 62-45 winner over Ripley in the Division 1-3A semifinals Wednesday night.
A pair of 3-pointers from Anfernee Rutherford cut what was a 16-point Booneville lead to 44-38 early in the fourth.
“It may have gotten their attention a little bit. We got on the ropes when the kid hit that second 3 in a row,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “We did not do a good job defensively there getting over the top of the ball screen like we were supposed to.”
With Middle Tennessee State scouts among onlookers at Northeast CC’s Bonner Arnold Coliseum, Geno was whistled for a technical foul for slapping the backboard going for a block.
Britt Lindley’s free throw off the foul cut the lead to 40-33 in the third.
Booneville responded with a putback dunk and a block from Geno as the Blue Devils (23-4) inched ahead by 11.
The two-time North champions face Holly Springs here Friday in the championship game.
Balanced Booneville played without starter Daryl Barefield (flu) and got a game-high 21 from Jack Nichols after fighting off one last Ripley run on Rutherford’s 3s.
“They just kind of run at you and drive it down your throat. If they’re making shots, they’re really hard to defend,” Smith said. “I thought all year long Ripley was as good as anybody in our division.”
Another dunk from Geno answered for a seven-point lead and after Ross Smith took a charge, Nichols made it 50-41. Jazz Prather’s two free throws gave Booneville a 52-41 with 4:57 to play.
Rutherford scored 15 to pace Ripley (20-10) , which face Alcorn Central in Friday’s consolation game.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com