Tournament notebook: Strange occurrences are commonplace at the Big House

basketball_icon_greenBy Gene Phelps and Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

JACKSON – When the game clock hit zero at the end of the first quarter Saturday, Booneville’s girls led Crystal Springs 6-3 in their Class 3A State Tournament semifinal.

The eight-minute period was laced with missed shots and turnovers.

“It’s the Big House; crazy stuff happens down here,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said.

Actually, Smith attributes his team’s slow start to nerves. The Lady Blue Devils are making their first visit to the Mississippi Coliseum as players. The previous three seasons they’ve made the trip south to cheer on the school’s boys team.

“They’ve been a fan the last three years,” Smith said. “It’s a big difference sitting in the bleachers and sitting on the bench.”

Booneville, once it overcame the jitters, defeated Crystal Springs 43-32 to advance the Thursday’s state championship game.

Road warriors

Booneville’s Kent and Betty Gale Geno have made a habit of March trips to Mississippi Coliseum. Their last three seasons were to see son Kenny Paul. This season, it’s to see daughter Cora, a sophomore for the Lady Blue Devils.

“It’s special,” Kent Geno said. “We feel the same about Cora … excited for her and her team. We hope we’ve got some exciting times in the future.”

The Genos have made a lot of trips to Athens, Ga., this season to watch Kenny Paul, a freshman, play for the Georgia Bulldogs.

“We’ve been to every game except one in Athens,” Kent said, “750 miles round trip.”

The road trips continue this week as Booneville plays in the 3A championship game on Friday while Georgia plays in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.

Coming up

The final two Northeast Mississippi entries in this year’s tournament play Tuesday in Class 4A: Itawamba AHS girls vs. Raymond at 6:30 p.m.; Shannon boys vs. Raymond at 8 p.m.

The 4A title games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday (girls) and 2:30 p.m. Saturday (boys).

The championship round tips off Thursday with Baldwyn’s boys playing S.V. Marshall at 2:30 p.m. in the 2A final.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Pine Grove’s girls play Mound Bayou JFK in the 1A title game. JFK defeated Pine Grove 45-40 in the North half finals.

Also, at 1 p.m. Thursday, H.W. Byers’ girls play Scott Central for the 2A championship.

Byers won three consecutive Class 1A state titles, including last season before moving up a class. Scott Central is the defending 2A state champ.