BY DALE A. LEONARD
BALDWYN – Jason McKay was concerned how his Baldwyn Lady Bearcats would bounce back after dropping their first game of the season Saturday to top-ranked Ripley.
Facing No. 7-ranked Booneville in a battle of unbeaten Division 1-2A teams, Baldwyn- ranked No. 4 in the Daily Journal poll- put all his fears aside by handing its Prentiss County foe a 57-44 setback.
Shaq Price scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half as Baldwyn improved to 17-1, but more importantly, remained perfect at 5-0 in division play.
Booneville, playing its fourth straight Top Ten opponent, fell to 12-5 and lost for the first time in four tries within a tough division alliance.
“This was a big win because Booneville has been playing exceptionally well,” McKay said. “They're well coached and a good basketball team. But we simply played one of our better games.”
Booneville earned a split as the reigning Prentiss County boys champs downed Baldwyn 70-56 in the nightcap.
Danny Ramsey's Blue Devils (10-6, 3-1) place five players in double figures en route to the win. Ramsey's Rowdies were led by Charles Bell and Isaac Leslie with 12 points each. Dejis Miller, Cory Kizer, and Jeremy Mobley each added 11.
Leading 20-15 after one quarter, Booneville began to pull away on Mobley's buzzer-beating 3-pointer just before the half.
Baldwyn played without leading scorer D.J. Miller, who injured a hamstring in the Ripley game. Marchello Ragin led the Bearcats (7-9, 1-4) with 19 points. Matthew Lee hit for 13 and J'marre Clark added 11.
Lady Cats big win
Erica Harvell had a game-high 18 points and Haley Cox added 13 as Baldwyn made things look easy before the standing-room only crowd.
Both teams appeared anxious in the early going as neither team could find the range. The Lady Cats were able to go inside to Cox and Jessica Bender late in the opening stanza to gain a 16-8 advantage.
The Lady Devils' full court defense kept Baldwyn out of sync until Kim Pannell drilled a pull-up 3-pointer.
On the other hand, Booneville' s shooting woes continued. Three-point shot rimmed out and high percentage shots under the basket simply would not fall.
“Maybe we were a little uptight,” Booneville coach Paul Langley said. “We've played New Site, Belmont, Ashland and tonight Baldwyn. I just think all of it finally caught up with us.
“We got our looks as the basket, but credit Baldwyn's defense. They had a great game plan and we just could execute on what we needed to do.”
Price scored seven straight points as Baldwyn opened a 31-17 halftime cushion.
Suzanne Ford and Ashley Hale were finally able to knock down a pair of 3-point shots, but not until Harvell had caught fire to give the Lady Cats a 20-point lead.
“We think that we're in one the toughest division in the state,” McKay said. “This is just one small step and the rest of the games will be equally as hard and tough road for everybody.”
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