By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – For the first time all season, the Booneville Blue Devils were a whole basketball team at practice Monday.
With Kenny Paul Geno scoring 21 points and controlling the boards on Tuesday, the Devils looked a whole lot like the group that won the 2011 Class 3A State Championship as they downed the Tupelo Golden Wave 62-55.
“It seemed that every player who played made a play or two,” said Booneville head coach Michael Smith, who welcomed back starter Jordan Miller from football injuries this week. “I think there was an excitement at practice, and the kids feel they can finally move forward with the season.
“I think the key tonight was that we really defended well, and that set the tone.”
Offensively, Geno aided in setting the tone for the Devils (4-3), hitting two 3-pointers in the first quarter as Booneville raced to a 19-7 lead through the period. The senior Booneville star drained another two 3-pointers in the second period as the Devils continued its solid team play, moving to a 34-18 halftime lead.
“It doesn’t ever feel good to lose, but this was a good lesson for us,” Tupelo head coach Jeff Norwood said. “I think Booneville is a good team, they were in good shape, and they made shots.”
The Booneville perimeter players continued to match Tupelo’s speed in the third quarter, leading by as much as 50-30.
The Tupelo defense was turned up to a hectic notch at times in the fourth period, allowing the Wave to make a bit of dent in the margin.
The Wave pulled within 60-53 with 1 minute, 46 seconds to play on an Antonio Green basket, but Jack Nichols scored the last points of the contest for Booneville with 1:09 left to ice the win.
(G) Tupelo 82, Booneville 44: Senior Casey Marshall set the pace for the Lady Wave (8-2) in the first quarter, scoring 11 as Tupelo moved to a 23-13 lead, and never looked back.
Tupelo led 43-27 at the half, with Jaleigha Polk leading the team in scoring for the game with 21. Jasmine Allen led Booneville (4-3) with 14.