Class 3A Girls

Photo by Keith Warren/MHSAA

JACKSON — The press has been giving Booneville fits all season.

But on Saturday afternoon it didn’t.

Behind the play of Sa’Niya Cook along with a big second quarter Lady Blue Devils raced past Forest 58-31 to claim the MHSAA Girls Class 3A State Championship for the second consecutive season at the Mississippi Coliseum.

It’s Booneville’s (30-3) fourth state title in school history.

“I thought we had a really good game plan going in and we knew they were going to press us, but they could press us in two or three spots, but not all five,” said Booneville coach Michael Smith. “We wanted to make sure Sa’Niya only had one or two players guarding her and that was the pressure release and that took them out of what they were wanting to do.”

The Lady Devils jumped out to a 9-0 lead to begin the game, but Forest went on a 6-2 run to end the opening quarter to cut the Booneville lead to 11-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was the difference in this one. Forest scored the first basket of the quarter on a steal and lay-up by Shakira Robinson 10 seconds in the period to cut the Booneville lead to 11-8.

From that point Booneville went on a 19-0 run to end the first half to take a commanding 30-8 lead highlighted by back-to-back three pointers from Ava Kathryn Smith. 

In the second half every time Forest tried to cut into the Booneville had answer and never saw the lead cut below 20 points as the Lady Devils held a 42-18 lead at the end of third quarter.

Cook sealed the game for the Lady Devils as she hit four consecutive free throws to give Booneville a 51-26 lead.

“We were back and forth defensively on what to do but just try to keep them in front of us and try to see what they were going to do, but that’s the best we’ve played on both ends of the floor and they got frustrated,” Smith said. “Sa’Niya is a monster, and she went from playing her back to the basket to help with us handling the pressure to handling the ball and that says a lot about her. Now we’re back to back chams for the first time.”

Cook had a game-high 20 points to lead Booneville, while Smith added 19 points for the Lady Devils.

“We started off really good, like we expected and in the second quarter we were getting tired and in the second half we came out and did what we expected to do,” Cook said. “We knew who were the best defensive players and whoever wasn’t on them had to get the ball and score. We had to stay humble and just play defense like we always do and this feels good.”

Denim Morgan had 10 points to lead Forest, while Kelviana Parhm added seven points for the Lady Bearcats (26-7).

“We started off slow and could never get into a rhythm and once we did it was a little too late,” said Forest coach Teont Boyd. “Hats off to Booneville they played a great game. This is the first time in 23 years Forest made it this far, so I’m proud of the girls.”