Over those hills would be an anticipated NeMiss matchup for the Class 3A state championship.
Friday at 8 p.m., two-time North champ and 2011 state champion Booneville will take on Bailey at the Mississippi Coliseum. Aberdeen will face Kemper County Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
“I think if Aberdeen and Booneville are worried about playing each other again, neither one of us are going to be in the finals,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “We both have a lot of work to do to get to that point.”
The Blue Devils (31-3) lost only one from the title team, guard Tre Welch. His replacement Jake Hall is one of three Devils to post a double figure average with 11 points an outing. Senior guard Keldrick Lesley leads the way with nearly 17 while junior postman and dunker Kenny Paul Geno scores 12.
At 22-10, Bailey Magnet is led by senior center Lee Montgomery and his 16.7 points per game, one of three to average double figures for the Knights, who ended Booneville’s season two years ago on a Tuesday.
“They’re not real big but they play very big,” Smith said. “It’s hard to find a weakness. It’s a tough matchup. Film doesn’t do them justice.”
Booneville is coming off a 69-55 win against Aberdeen in the North finals to even the season series.
Aberdeen’s loss drew the Bulldogs Kemper County (26-8) and McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard.
Pollard, at 6-foot-7, is averaging 23.8 points while senior point man Nick Giles is good for nearly 20 a game.
Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said his team will play the way it’s accustomed to no matter where the versatile Pollard lines up.
“We’re going to make them work,” Hazzle said. “If we get hurt in one thing, we’ve got something else we’re going to adjust to. We’ve just got to play Bulldog basketball.”
Aberdeen (27-6) often has up to 10 players in the scoring column. The Bulldogs rotate guards around big men Elliot Johnson and Brandon Hodges.
Point guard Sed Fair leads the team in scoring with 23 a game, while fellow guard Jeffery Riddle and double-figure rebounder Johnson add 10 per.
“We have to take them one at a time,” Hazzle said. “We can’t get to the next one unless we take care of the one at hand.”