By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Booneville Blue Devils were a basketball team in search of themselves Tuesday entering their contest with the Ripley Tigers.
That’s the same pack of Tigers who could clinch the No. 1 seed in the Division 1-3A Tournament with a win.
Now Ripley might be searching for a few answers as Booneville picked up a little momentum for the postseason with an 82-68 victory, denying the Tigers the top spot.
“We’ve been struggling, trying to identify our roles,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “This was a big win to give us some confidence.”
In the final 43 seconds of the half, Booneville (14-8, 4-4) ripped off a 7-0 run that included baskets by Keldrick Lesley and Omar Leach for a 41-36 lead.
“The run was a gut-punch to us, probably the key to the game,” Ripley coach Trent Adair said, even though his Tigers will still be the No. 2 seed for the tourney. “To me this was a disappointing game, and shows how inconsistent we are.”
Booneville built on the closing moments of the first half after the break, and Ripley (15-6, 8-2) never could really dent the Devils’ lead.
A trio of Devils scored 15 points each – Easton Cartwright, Tre Welch, and Leach – while Tyyon Rutherford tallied 18 to pace Ripley.
(G) Ripley 79, Booneville 55
There was a celebration at finishing No. 2 in the division for the Lady Tigers, who also qualified to advance into the 3A North Tournament .
“That was a goal of ours,” Ripley coach Katie Bates said. “We’re getting better each game.”
A strong third quarter for Ripley (14-7, 7-3) was highlighted by a 12-0 run, with the Lady Tigers leading 56-38 by the end of the period.
Jayla Chills and Lanaesha Cox each scored 21 to pace Ripley, and Hillary Miller scored 15 to lead Booneville.