By David Wheeler | NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – An experienced group of players certainly comes in handy when making changes on the fly.
The defending Class 3A state champion Booneville Devils kept tweaking their game plan on Saturday, eventually wearing down the Calhoun City Wildcats 60-44 in a Doc Vandiver Classic game at Baldwyn High School.
“Calhoun City always plays hard and physical,” Booneville head coach Michael Smith said. “We changed our defense at the start of the second quarter because Tabarrius Coffey is so good.
“We made the change to help inside and our rebounding.”
Booneville (9-1) guard Keldrick Lesley was pretty good himself this contest, leading the Blue Devils with 23 points. Lesley scored five points in a 12-0 scoring run in the second quarter, capped by a Darius Leach basket, to help the Devils to a 21-9 lead.
Calhoun City (3-5), coming off a tough two-point loss Friday to county-rival Bruce, responded with a 9-0 spurt, capped by a Coffee basket, that pulled the Wildcats within 21-18.
The Wildcats were still hanging close at the beginning of the fourth quarter following a Primer Dartavion basket that closed the Booneville lead to 45-38. But from there, the Devils began pulling away.
“The players were inconsistent today, this was just not Calhoun City basketball,” said Calhoun City coach Darren Coffey, who saw six players graduate from last season’s squad. “Booneville shot the ball well, but we didn’t create anything off our steals.
“We had no steals, and that’s the first time that’s happened to us. We’re going to correct that Monday.”
Lesley was the only Booneville player in double figures, while Dartavion led Calhoun City with 18.
“Our team responded well to several runs Calhoun City made,” Smith said. “We felt like we were on the ropes one time, and the kids made a couple of changes themselves.
“They’re on the floor, and you’ve got to trust them sometimes.”