BOONEVILLE • Being the new guy isn’t easy. Being the new guy who’s taking over at point guard is even tougher.
Bryton Smith has been that guy for Booneville since transferring from New Site prior to the season. There have been ups and downs for him and his teammates, but Saturday night provided a portrait of what Smith and the Blue Devils can do.
Smith led Booneville to a 53-45 win against his old team in the Prentiss County Tournament title game. He scored 13 points and helped close the door on the Daily Journal’s No. 5-ranked team.
Smith’s steal led to a Chandler Johnson layup, giving Booneville a 50-45 lead with 1:22 left. The senior then made three free throws in the final minute to ice it.
“It’s hard for a kid moving in to get comfortable,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “It just takes a while, and he’s trying to learn everybody and please everybody and figure out his own game. It’s a hard thing.”
It’s especially hard on a team so loaded with talent. Booneville (9-5) has some of the best guard play around, with the likes of Josh Dukes, Kaleb Guy and Trey McKinney.
Even with all its talent, Booneville has taken its lumps against a tough schedule. It has losses to No. 1 Ingomar, No. 6 Holly Springs, No. 8 Pontotoc and Tupelo, and it fell to Amory just before the Prentiss County tourney.
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys, but sometimes that’s not the best thing,” Michael Smith said. “Trying to figure out who can do what and everybody buying into a role, that’s the hardest thing. I don’t know that we had an identity for a while of what we were really looking to do and who we wanted to do it with.”
Bryton Smith said he’s settling into his role and feels he and his teammates have learned to trust each other.
“As a basketball player I always keep my mind and my head straight, and I’m doing pretty good,” he said. “As a team I feel like we’re coming together, and as you can see, winning the tournament, that should be a big step in our process.”
Against New Site (20-2), the Blue Devils were able to overcome a size disadvantage in the post and kept sharpshooter Walker Moreland in check. Bryton Smith had to become his team’s primary defender after Guy got in early foul trouble.
Smith was working so hard on both ends of the floor that his coach called a couple of timeouts just so he could catch a breath.
“He controlled the end of the game, but he didn’t do it by pressing,” Michael Smith said. “I think he’s struggled at times trying to do too much, and we wanted him to do too much. We’ve all struggled to fit in, and we still do it within a game. But we’re getting better.”