Defending champion Blue Devils will get everyone's best shot

By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal

The 2011 Class 3A state championship trophy for Booneville High School is certainly a prized possession for Blue Devils head coach Michael Smith.
But this week, that trophy is almost meaningless for Smith.
Booneville is one of 37 Northeast Mississippi boys teams that open play today in the six various North Mississippi tournaments. Booneville (27-3) hosts Charleston (15-8) in the Class 3A North Mississippi Tournament, currently scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Winning last year doesn’t help us at all this year,” said Smith, whose squad won the Division 1-3A tournament last week. “Everyone is going to be playing their best against us, and we’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves.”
The Devils come into North play last having lost in the championship game of the Prentiss County Tournament to Baldwyn back in January. Keldrick Lesley leads Booneville in scoring at 16.8 points per game, followed by Kenny Paul Geno at 12.6 ppg.
“Charleston should really be a No. 1 seed because they won the regular season in their division,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to play at a high level of intensity, and just take one game at a time.”
In order to advance in the individual North tournaments, every team must win tonight. Sites for the remaining games this week will be determined by tonight’s winners.
Corinth faces challenge
The Corinth Warriors come into their 7 p.m. contest today as the No. 2 seed from 1-4A, but that still earned them the right to host Indianola Gentry (15-11) in this first-round matchup.
“This is going to be a good challenge,” Corinth head coach Keith Greene said. “Playing at home, we’ll get a lot of energy from the crowd.”
Corinth (24-5) is coming off a five-point loss to Shannon in the 1-4A championship game, having now lost two of three to their division foe. Eric Richardson leads the Warriors with 15.8 ppg, followed by Deion Weeks with 15.6 ppg.
“I think we can still defend better, and specifically defend off the dribble better,” said Greene, whose Warriors lost in the 3A title game last season to Booneville. “Anyone you play from here on is going to have good guard play, so we need to defend better.”