By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
JACKSON – Long before it ended, Corinth was ready for Booneville. Corinth’s 68-54 win against Velma Jackson in the MHSAA Class 3A state semifinals Friday was already a thing of the past when the horn sounded.
With the game decided before the fourth quarter started, Corinth could already afford to think about a much-anticipated matchup on Thursday with neighbor and Division 1-3A rival Booneville.
Fans – and players – had already started their “We want Booneville” chant.
“Everybody in North Mississippi is going to be here,” Corinth senior guard Deonta Herman said. “They got us last time. But it won’t happen this time.”
The statement from Herman was lighthearted. In front of two lively fan bases, the game won’t be. And as much respect as the teams and coaches have for the other, this fifth matchup has all the makings of a classic.
Corinth, going for its first title since 2002, owns three wins against Booneville this season. Booneville, its last title coming in 1963 Class AA, beat the Warriors 70-68 on Darius Leach’s buzzer-beater to win the North championship last Saturday.
“We’re right down the road from each other. It’s going to be intense,” Corinth coach Keith Greene said. “Playing for a state championship, I’d expect no less. I’m good friends with (Booneville coach) Michael (Smith), but he’ll tell you and I’ll tell you too, we’re going to try to win a ballgame.”
The Warriors (30-4) came to win a ballgame in front of 3,000 in attendance Friday and an 18-1 first quarter run greatly aided the effort. The run went to 22-1 and to a 30-8 lead on Eric Richardson’s second-quarter bucket.
Corinth maintained a lead that only dipped below 16 in the game’s final two minutes.
Herman, a Jackson State signee, scored 18 points to lead Corinth. Steven Polk added 15, Deione Weeks 12 and Jarvis Patterson 10. Corinth shot 51.6 percent in the first half.
Patrick Hudson scored 16 to lead the Falcons (24-8).
“It’s always nice to get off to that great start,” Greene said. “Defensively our hands were active tonight. Early on we got some tips and steals and got out in transition. They came out ready to go.”