McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard answered by taking the basketball the length of the Mississippi Coliseum court and slamming down a one-handed rim-rattling dunk.
That’s the way it went for the Blue Devils in a 75-65 loss.
With Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury, Alabama coach Anthony Grant and Texas assistants in attendance, Pollard impressed with a game-high 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
“He should be a difference. He’s a really good player and we didn’t get a break in any way, shape, form or fashion,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “They’re not the type of team you need to get behind and that’s not the way we play.”
Kemper (28-8) led by as many as 18 points in the opening half but saw the lead dwindle in the third quarter against a fiery Booneville club in its second straight time here, winning it all last season.
Geno’s play in the third cut the lead to 49-39 as Booneville fought off a 16-point halftime deficit.
“We’re more of a halfcourt offensive team and then we had to change some things we were doing to try to get back in it,” Smith said. “You’ve got to give them credit.”
Geno’s 3-pointer in the fourth trimmed it to 55-48 but Pollard was there again with a three-point play on the other end. He answered that bucket with his final block of the game.
Geno finished with 18 points and 16 boards. Keldrick Lesley added 24.
“It’s just one unbelievable thing after another,” Kemper coach Kelvin Young said. “He’s always played hard. He gave me everything he’s got.”
Booneville (32-4) made one last push. After a Jack Nichols’ steal and Lesley bucket cut the lead to eight with 4:56 to play, Booneville couldn’t convert on back-to-back Kemper turnovers. Pollard then made a pair of free throws.
Kemper made 32 of 46 from the line. Booneville made 18 of 21.
Click here for photo gallery from this game.