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Three-peat: Booneville clinches MHSAA 3A Championship with 46-43 win over Coahoma County in OT

The Blue Devils erased a five-point deficit in overtime to clinch another MHSAA Championship

It takes big plays to win championships, and when the chips were down in Friday’s MHSAA Class 3A finale, Booneville’s Alan Nunley made two of them.

With his team trailing by five points in overtime, the senior knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two, then created a turnover with a hustle play on the other end to give the Blue Devils a chance.

Booneville’s Mr. Basketball Kedrick Simmons knocked down four clutch free throws in the final minute and the Blue Devils hung on for a 46-43 win over Coahoma County to clinch the 2024 State Championship.

Its Booneville’s (28-2) third straight Class 3A state title and the programs seventh state title overall.

The Blue Devils join Raymond (2017-2019), Velma Jackson (2012-2014), Lanier (2005-2007) and New Albany (1985-1987) as the only schools to win three-consecutive boys basketball state champions. New Site holds the record streak for the longest run with five from 1965 to 1969.

“Alec just said he was not going to let us lose,” said Booneville coach Michael Smith. “He made play after play down the stretch to keep us in the game. It’s a testament to these kids and their willingness to do whatever it takes to win.”

It was a defensive game. Coahoma County held a slim 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The two teams traded baskets in the second and went into the half tied 19-19.

Booneville opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take 28-23 lead, and held a 29-28 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

The lead changed hands five times in the final quarter of regulation. Nunley hit a lay-up with 1:50 left to give Booneville a 36-34 lead, then Caleb Hearns followed with a lay-up for Coahoma County to tie the game 36-36. The Red Panthers held the ball in the final minute of regulation, but the potential game-winning shot was off the mark.

In overtime, the Red Panthers worked their way to a 43-39 lead with 43 seconds left, but Nunley hit one-of two free throws, grabbed a loose ball and made a lay-up to cut the Coahoma County lead to 43-42.

Simmons came up with a rebound and was fouled on a shot attempt, made both free throws with eight seconds left to give the Blue Devils a 44-43 lead. His final two free throws put Booneville ahead 46-43.

“Coahoma is a great team and they make it hard to score," Smith said. "They are very well coached and are physically and mentally tough. This is a special group of kids. These seniors played in the finals every year and went 27-1 in the playoffs. It’s incredible what they’ve done, and they put in the work every day to get here and finish.”

Nunley finished with 15 points to lead Booneville and was named the game’s most valuable player. Kedrick Simmons added 10 points for the Blue Devils.

“As soon as I shot the free throw it was going off, so I went for the loose ball and threw it up and it went in," Nunley said. "We were pressing to score most of the game, so we just had to settle down. We had to be who we are and play our game. We struggled with their zone, but found a way to come out on top. This is an amazing feeling going three in a row.”

Hearns had 11 points to lead Coahoma County, while Jerasmus Eagins added 10 points for the Red Panthers (28-7).

“We’re up four with 40 seconds to go," Coahoma coach Derrick Moore said. "We turned the ball over twice, and if we make free throws, the game is over. It wasn’t meant to be. Booneville is a great team, and we let them off the hook.”