By Brandon Speck
Booneville is young, but not too young to win. The Lady Blue Devils have been a surprise in Class 3A, starting this week with a 17-4 record, ranked No. 6 in Northeast Mississippi.
“We’re very, very young. But they don’t know that. They just kind of play,” first-year coach Michael Smith said. “Every time you think they’re going to get a little shook, they find a way to get through it.”
There was little time for the players to gel with the staff, including assistants Micah Moment and Brian Windham, that took over in October.
Even then, there was no practice period until the second semester started after Christmas.
Dashiyah Agnew is the lone senior, averaging 10.9 points per game. Freshman Adallice Young leads the team in scoring with 16.4. After that, it’s sophomore Maria Lauderdale (8.4) and sophomore Maleeka Patterson (5.8). Sophomore Cora Geno (4.7) is back after missing half the season with an injury.
There were plenty of chances to start shaking during the Prentiss County championship game a week ago – playing six-time defending champ New Site on its floor, a team that had beaten Booneville by 26 points in November, where New Site forced 40 turnovers.
Signs of growth
But growth is evidenced by the double-overtime win for the county title, topped by a steal by Agnew and Young and Agnew’s full-court drive and jumper.
“They have just consistently grinded and gotten better,” Smith said. “You can’t say enough about them.”
The No. 7 Lady Royals have handed Booneville two of its losses, including by 12 in December. Booneville has also lost to No. 8 Nettleton and No. 1 Tupelo.
Smith said trust had to be gained between coaches and players.
A 2-0 Division 1-3A start will be put to the test tonight against Kossuth.
The coaches know how difficult maintaining success is, from making three straight championship appearances with the Blue Devil boys, including a title in 2011.
“You can tell from being around them, they have a care for each other. And that’s a big thing,” Smith said, “when you’re concerned about one another and you enjoy each other whether you play or not. They’ve done a great job. We can’t say enough about these kids and the kind we have been lucky enough to have.”