By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
MOOREVILLE – Kenny Paul Geno’s 3-pointer at the halftime horn was like a needle that popped Mooreville’s balloon.
The shot gave Booneville a one-point lead and the Blue Devils never trailed again in a 59-43 win in the MHSAA Class 3A North quarterfinals.
“I thought the first half we had a lot of trouble with matchups and the second half our effort defensively was better,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “They didn’t get some transition run-outs they did in the first half.”
Booneville (26-4), the Journal’s fourth-ranked team, is one win away from its third straight trip to the state tournament. It was the second win over Mooreville in three games.
The Blue Devils will face East Side tonight at 6 p.m.
No. 2 Mooreville (27-5) scored 10 points in the second half. Jack Nichols scored 10 for Booneville and finished with 21.
Geno scored a game-high 22 points and had 12 rebounds. Booneville fought off Mooreville’s only serious threat in the third quarter with another buzzer-beater, a 3 from Antonio Crump for a 49-41 lead.
Nichols went to the goal on an inbounds and gave Booneville a 51-41 lead in the fourth. Crump followed with one of his four 3-pointers and Geno’s alley-oop dunk from Nichols had Booneville ahead 16.
Kelsey Scott had 17 for Mooreville, five of the Troopers’ second-half points.
“They just hit and we just didn’t,” said Mooreville coach Jeff Tally. “We had looks and they just wouldn’t go down.”
Ben Seay scored Mooreville’s only two points of the fourth. Mooreville let the final minute wind down without fouling.
A 3-pointer from Scott had Mooreville within seven but Brandon Moore missed a pair of free throws and Crump connected from deep.
“That was huge, a big momentum swing,” Smith said. “It’s not really what we were trying to get but he’s a great shooter, as good a shooter in rhythm as you’ll see and he made a big shot.”