By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Booneville didn’t slow down and Houston couldn’t slow the Blue Devils. Booneville ran right past the visiting Hilltoppers on Friday night, with an 80-48 win in the Kiwanis Classic.
The Blue Devils (9-3) led by 30 at the half and stretched it to a 40-point lead on John Wesley Copeland’s 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Billed as a matchup of Houston’s Chris Jones, a Mississippi State football commit, and highly-sought Booneville senior Kenny Paul Geno, it was over early.
Booneville’s run-and-gun is a new look. Coach Michael Smith said it was an effort to get his offense rolling.
“We just felt like with the kind of kids we had, we needed to,” Smith said. “It was not perfect by any means, but I felt like it at least got us loose.”
Geno had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including a pair of thunderous putback slams. Jack Nichols had 19.
By the time Jordan Miller raced the length of the court for a lay-in just before the half, the Blue Devils led 49-19.
Houston (9-3) played without starting point guard Chris Thorton but fell behind early. Booneville scored the game’s first six points.
“I didn’t get the effort I’ve been getting all year, weren’t ready to play tonight,” Houston coach Bruce Franks said.
“We played a good ballclub. They were fast, played better as a team and wanted it much, much more than we did.”
The game took less than 90 minutes. The teams combined for only 15 free throws.
Jones had 14 points for Houston, Anquan Russell 13. Jones had a stout dunk of his own but was called for a charge against Geno. Jones scored the next four but Booneville used a 15-2 run in the second quarter to take a 33-9 lead on a pair of free throws from Geno.