Canton hands top-ranked Booneville first loss

Nov. 21—BOONEVILLE — Booneville coach Michael Smith believes that the season doesn't really start until you lose a game. After Tuesday's game against Canton, it's game on.

The high-octane Tigers were too much for the two-time defending Class 3A state champion Blue Devils to handle in a 70-49 loss at home. Three Canton players tied for the team lead in points with 18. Kedrick Simmons led the Blue Devils, the No. 1 team in the area, with 13.

"I don't think you ever like to lose, but I think they're a really good team," Smith said. "I think they're a contender in 5A. We want to find out where we're at. We know we've got a lot of work to do.

"They whipped us on both ends of the floor the entire game. They just dominated us, and that's not a feeling that you like."

Canton's offense poured it on early. The Tigers (3-0) made seven 3-pointers in the first half, led by Zakirius Gilkey's five. They scored 20 points in each of the first two quarters.

Booneville (4-1) trailed by nine after the first quarter and trimmed it to seven at one point in the second quarter, but Canton found a way to take a 40-27 halftime lead. The Tigers didn't let Booneville back into the game after that.

"I just think we compounded mistakes," Smith said. "We didn't get back in transition. They're too good to give them stuff, and we gave them stuff. It felt like at points we were down 50 (when) we're down 12."

Booneville had three players score double-digit points and had moments where it showed it could hang. The Blue Devils return four starters from last year's championship team, but they're still looking for bench depth to develop.

"(The boys and girls teams have) won it seven times, I don't ever remember winning it when you did not have a game or multiple games where somebody came in off the bench that made plays to win," Smith said. "We don't have that yet. We have to develop that. We've got some kids that really do well in practice, but when they get in games, just kind of overwhelmed so far."

(G) Booneville 66, Canton 45: No. 2 Booneville (6-0) kept its undefeated start to the season going. Sa'Niyah Cook had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Up next for Booneville is Columbus at home on Nov. 28.


Turning Point: Canton led the game nearly from start to finish and held a double-digit lead for most of it.

Point Maker: Jamarion Davis-Fleming had 18 points for Canton. Davis-Fleming is one of the top recruits in the state for the class of 2025.

Talking Point: "I'm proud of some of the things I saw. I thought we handled the ball extremely well, especially in the second half. I just have high expectations for our kids." — Smith