The carrot – a trip to Jackson and the Class 3A state tournament boys semifinals – is dangling, but only one team can chow down.
Mooreville (18-11) got a taste last season. The team the Troopers host at 7 p.m. Saturday in the tournament’s second round, Booneville (14-10), has its eyes on the same postseason appetizer.
“Everybody knows what’s on the line for this game,” Mooreville coach Jim Tally said. “We set the bar kind of high last season. It would be nice to get back to Jackson. I expect a packed house for the game.”
Mooreville, which has three starters back from last season’s team, won the Division 4-3A tournament last week as the top seed with victories against North Pontotoc and Aberdeen, then defeated Amanda Elzy 61-52 in Tuesday’s first round.
Point guard Jaycee Horn, guard Bo Thomas and guard/forward Peyton McCord are the returnees. The new starters are guard Cam Lockridge, who scored a team-high 16 in the win against Amanda Elzy, and 6-foot-3 forward Santo Jamerson. Brandon Dutcher, at 6-1, adds strength inside.
“We’ve had balanced scoring this season,” Tally said. “I’m glad it’s that way. Horn has had his games. McCord has scored in the 20s. It’s up in the air on who’s going to be on any night.”
The Troopers finished 20-12 last season and lost their state quarterfinals game by 20 points to Forest at Jackson State. This year’s boys quarterfinal games will be played at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“We’re playing pretty well,” Tally said. “We’re not doing anything out of the normal. We’re moving the ball well, the inside guys are playing hard.
“We never really discussed any goals for this year. We just want to play well and get every win we can.”
Booneville and Mooreville didn’t play this season, but they had a game scheduled that was postponed by weather.
“Booneville’s got a good team,” Tally said. “I’m glad we’re both coming into this game 0-0 (against each other).”