By John Wilbert | NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Even though both squads were missing at least seven players due to their football commitments, the Cleveland East Side and Booneville boys basketball teams still looked pretty impressive in their 2011 debuts.
In a rematch of last season’s MHSAA Class 3A North quarterfinals game, the Blue Devils once again outlasted the Trojans, winning 55-49 at Saturday’s Booneville Classic.
The 2010-11 state champion Blue Devils defeated McDonald’s All-American Johnny O’Bryant and the Trojans, 63-51, in February.
“I thought overall my guys battled and played hard against a very, very good and disciplined Booneville team,” Trojans coach Leroy Cotton said about Saturday’s season opener.
The Trojans and Blue Devils could get those missing players back as soon as next weekend. Ironically, both schools’ football teams will play one another in Friday’s second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Blue Devils coach Michael Smith said it’s been difficult to conduct practices with a limited roster, citing times when coaches and a non-basketball playing student had to actively participate.
“We’re missing depth, especially low-post depth inside,” added the 2010-11 Daily Journal Coach of the Year. “Most of our big kids play football. We then got some really good defensive guards that play out there, too.”
With that being said, the Blue Devils received good performances from their guards and forward Kenny Paul Geno on Saturday. Keldrick Lesley, a 2010-11 Daily Journal Top 10 All-Area selection, scored a team-high 20 points, while Geno tallied 14 and Darius Leach added 10.
Transfer Jake Hall had nine points in his debut.
Markevius Brown scored a game-high 21 and teammate Kharlos Jones added 15 for the Trojans, whose star player last season, O’Bryant, has since graduated and is playing at LSU.
“With it being early on in the season, we missed a couple of times on being where we’re supposed to be at,” Cotton said.