The Booneville Lady Blue Devils are looking to improve.
“The girls are much better than we were the last few years,” head coach Michael Smith said. “We’re just young, relying on a lot of ninth and tenth graders to lead us and that’s tough.”
Booneville finished 6-14 (2-8 in district play) a season ago.
“It’s a fun group to watch,” Smith said. “They get up and down the floor, they play hard and they defend well.”
The Lady Devils will look to Kaylee and Kylee Johnson for production this season, along with Tatiyana Beane.
“We rely on different ones, there’s no one player we look at and say ‘she’s got to get us 20 points every night or we can’t win,’” Smith said. “We have some seniors who we rely on for their experience and leadership. But if we can get 15 points out of three players, that’s as good as getting 15 from one.”
Hannah Davis and Mary Houston Ivy are seniors on the Booneville squad this season.
“We like what we see so far,” Smith said. “There are games coming up that will be difficult but it will be good for us.
“It’s a fun group to watch.”
The Booneville Blue Devils finished 23-5 a season ago, ending with a 59-32 playoff loss to perennial powerhouse St. Andrews.
“We felt coming back we could be better,” Smith continued. “We have some young kids coming back. This year’s team has so much more skill at shooting and passing the ball. We are bigger at every position.”
The veteran BHS coach said the season will be a challenge.
“We are asking these kids to do some pretty big things,” he said..”Some of (the players) haven’t been to a practice yet due to football and family obligations.
“I think this is the best team I’ve had here yet.”
The Blue Devils will rely on a quartet of juniors in Josh Dukes, L.J. Shumpert, James Dukes and Dicorean McGee. The blue-and-gold will look to 6-6 freshman Kendrick Simmons to score in the post.
“We need production from (Josh and James Dukes),” Smith said. “ And I like LJ Shumpert leadership and toughness as a senior leader. He kind of keeps us in line sometimes if we start to get soft.
“I think the team is unique and it’s not just one (player). We just have to play some games and figure some things out.”