By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Booneville has made itself at home in the MHSAA Class 3A championship game.
The Blue Devils are there for the third-straight year after a heart-stopping 56-48 overtime win against Forest in the state semifinals.
“We tell them all the time, they do some things we can’t explain,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “We can get a game that’s just as intense in our own county.”
Booneville (28-5) has a rematch with North champ Velma Jackson on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
The Blue Devils squandered an 11-point lead and trailed by two with less than 7 seconds left in regulation after a pair of Dequan Moore free throws.
Jack Nichols went to the rack, missed and Kenny Paul Geno grabbed the ball and laid it in at the buzzer to tie the game at 48.
“I thought Booneville had a great game plan. We’ve just got to get the rebound and that never happens,” Forest coach Perry Flether said.
Geno finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Nichols had 17.
Booneville controlled the overtime with Nichols making the first tough basket before Geno connected a three-point play.
The three-ball kept Forest close in the fourth quarter. It hit six to Booneville’s one for the game.
Geno had a pair of dunks in the opening 4 minutes as Booneville roared to an 8-3 lead.
Geno’s third dunk, a perfectly-placed alley oop from Nichols, gave Booneville a 22-17 lead. Nichols went inside against three defenders for a 26-17 lead after three.
Smith chose not to call a timeout before the tying play in regulation. Nichols set it up with a drive to the rim.
“That’s Kenny’s thing with effort. It’s just a will to win,” Smith said. “We let them back in it. They started making shots from 22 and 23 feet.”
Devadrick Carter led Forest (20-9) with 16 points.