By Gene Phelps
BOONEVILLE – Michael Smith is not taking any credit for his Booneville Lady Blue Devils reaching this year’s MHSAA Class 3A State Tournament.
“It’s obvious we inherited some good players,” he said. “You don’t get in a situation like this without good talent.”
Inherited is the key word here. Smith, the school’s boys basketball coach, and his staff – Micah Moment and Brian Windham – took charge of the girls’ program in early October when the former coach stepped down.
At the beginning, the girls and boys practices overlapped in the afternoons, which made it tough on the coaches and players. And, a coaching staff that was focused on a boys-only season had to scramble to become familiar with the girls hoops landscape.
“We didn’t know what we had, what other people had. We didn’t know the coaches, the styles of play,” Smith said.
“It says a lot about the character of these kids to accept a change early in the year.”
Smith, who directed the boys to a state championship in 2011, has the Lady Blue Devils (26-6) two wins away from bringing home a gold ball.
They play Crystal Springs (28-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the state semifinals at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Booneville’s lineup features one senior, two sophomores and three freshmen.
One of those rookies is guard Adallice Young, who averages 17.5 per game to lead the team.
“I don’t consider her young anymore,” Smith said. “… She’s put us on her back at times with her scoring and leadership.”
The senior is guard Dashiyah Agnew, who averages 11.4 points per game. “She took over that locker room when the (coaching) change took place,” Smith said.
Booneville lost 50-46 to Belmont in the North state championship game Saturday, but the Lady Devils defeated the Cardinals on their way to a division tournament title.
Booneville also beat 2A power New Site to win the Prentiss County crown.
“Those are two elite programs,” Smith said. “If you want to have a good program you have to compete with those teams. It gave us confidence.”
• Who: Booneville (26-6) vs. Crystal Springs (28-3)
• What: MHSAA girls 3A state tournament semifinals
• When: 1 p.m., Saturday
• Where: Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson
• Booneville: G Adallice Young (17.5 ppg), G Dashiyah Agnew (11.4 ppg), G Maria Lauderdale, G Kabrina Hill, F Cora Geno, F Maleeka Patterson.
• Crystal Springs: F Dominique Jackson (14.3 ppg), G Tekayla Tassin (11.3 ppg)
• NEXT: Winner plays Belmont or Hazlehurst for state championship.