By Brandon Speck
NEW SITE – It wasn’t the first time a Michael Smith-coached underdog pulled off a shocker. This time, he did it to his own hometown, Saturday night in the Prentiss County Tournament championship.
For a typical overflow PCT crowd, Smith’s No. 9 Booneville Lady Blue Devils beat the hosts – the six-time defending tournament champions, No. 3 New Site – 62-60 in double overtime.
Smith directed all the attention to his young team, which has just one senior.
“You can’t say enough about them,” Smith said. “But this can’t be the end of your season. We tried to approach this like a North Half, Saturday’s just a free game.”
Tied at 60, that senior, guard Dashiyah Agnew, and freshman Adallice Young stripped the ball from New Site’s Cristin Pharr, who had just reentered after sitting briefly with a cramp. Agnew drove the length of the court and pulled up for a short jumper just outside the left of the lane.
Grace Elliot missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Booneville (16-3) won its first county title in a long time.
Smith, a 1996 New Site graduate – and basketball standout – led the Booneville boys to an upset of East Side in the 2011 North state tournament, the beginning of Booneville’s three-year tournament run.
Who knows where this will lead the girls – New Site has handed the Devils two of their losses – but it was a big one.
“I’ve been impressed with them all year,” New Site coach Byron Sparks said. “I knew what kind of game we were in for.”
New Site (12-6) fought back after trailing 42-33 to start the fourth quarter. Allie Moreland’s three straight 3s put the Lady Royals ahead 44-42.
New Site senior Faith Mitchell sent the game to overtime with her 3-pointer to tie the game at 52. She had another 3 that gave the Lady Royals a 60-59 lead with 1:15 left in the second OT.
Young tied it on a free throw after an offensive rebound. She had 18, Agnew 17.
For New Site, Elliot scored 17, Pharr 14 and Moreland 12.
“They have a bullseye on their back every time,” Smith said. “It is the type of girls basketball program you want yours to be.”
Bearcats back on top
The No. 3 Baldwyn boys team had to work for its trophy, too, a 55-47 win over New Site to complete a sweep of the hosts and land its eighth county trophy in 10 seasons. New Site hung around until midway through the fourth quarter, cutting a double-digit lead to 49-43, but Baldwyn senior Martel Brown had a steal off a Bearcats miss and converted a three-point play for a 54-43 lead.
“I thought our kids did a lot of little things well,” Baldwyn coach Jason McKay said. “I thought our kids played with a lot of spark.”
The Bearcats (18-1) got 18 points from Brown, 18 from Duke Upshaw and 10 from Romaro Crump.
New Site, which missed a shot and a free throw that would have cut the deficit to four, was led by Josh Knight’s 17 points.
Brown had a late, and explosive, baseline slam that drew a technical foul as he swung off the rim to the delight of Baldwyn’s packed side. The wild atmosphere even led to the ejection of one New Site fan. The Division 1-2A opponents will meet again on Feb. 7 in Baldwyn.
“We know this is just one battle with them this year,” said McKay, who has won 7 of 9 Prentiss titles as a head coach. “It’s one you enjoy tonight, but you better be done with it.”