By Zach Adams/Itawamba Times
MOOREVILLE – Down by a basket to Velma Jackson with under five seconds remaining in the 3A North championship, Booneville got the ball in the hands of their star player.
Kenny Paul Geno shot a 3-pointer from the wing to win it at the buzzer, but the ball banged off the rim as the Falcons claimed the title, 42-40.
Velma Jackson slowed the game from the outset, holding the ball for significant amounts of time in an attempt to ground the high-flying Blue Devils. Powered by Quinndary Weatherspoon’s game-high 19 points, the Falcons stayed in front the majority of the game leading up to the thrilling finish.
“We try to slow (the game) down because we don’t play a lot of guys and I use that as a strategic measure to keep them out of foul trouble, shorten the game and make the defense have to work,” Velma Jackson coach Anthony Carlyle said. “(Boonevile) is well coached and we knew we had to come in and make it tough for them.”
The Falcons (18-8) led by one-point after the first quarter, but extended their advantage to as many as eight in the second behind the 3-point shooting of Kendarius Murry and Weatherspoon.
Antonio Crump hit a shot from behind the arc and Geno, who led Booneville with 18 points, scored from the paint to keep the Blue Devils (25-5) within striking distance trailing 25-20 at the half.
Door left open
Booneville was held at bay until late in the fourth when an Isaiah Witherspoon basket tied the game at 36 with 2:15 left.Murry hit two from the line to retake the lead, but a couple of costly misses with less than 10 seconds remaining gave Geno his chance at the end.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough environment,” Carlyle said. “Booneville has some of the greatest fans that I have seen in the state of Mississippi.”
Murry contributed 11 points for Velma Jackson, while Jack Nichols had 11 for Booneville.