Booneville coach Michael Smith has no special formula when it comes to leading his team to the state title game.
But he is pretty close.
Smith will coach in his fifth straight championship game today when the Lady Blue Devils take on Belmont for the girls 3A title at 2 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Smith guided the Booneville boys to three straight championship games from 2011-2013, winning the 2011 championship over rival Corinth and losing in 2012 and 2013 to Kemper County and Velma Jackson.
He began coaching the girls team in 2014 and guided the Lady Blue Devils to their first state championship in school history with a 56-51 win over Belmont.
“I think it is just a testament to the players we have and have had that have worked real hard and just played well at the right time,” Smith said. “Once you win a championship people start thinking it is easy to get back, and it is not. You have to work much harder the next year to get back.”
Despite the difficulty in reaching the championship round in back to back years, Booneville made it look easy with a 30-2 record entering the state tournament and wins over Choctaw Central and Nettleton in the first two rounds at the Coliseum.
“Our assistant coaches work really hard and the kids believe that they can win. That is all I can ask,” Smith said. “If I knew a solution of how to get down year on a yearly basis, I need to write a book about how do it.”
Smith is in his second year of coaching both the boys and girls programs. It’s a commitment that reaps big benefits, but puts a strain on how much time he can spend with his family.
“It took a lot out of us. We didn’t have an athletic period during school so we kept having long boys and girls practices (after school),” said Smith, a father of five. “As much as we sacrifice as coaches, it’s our families that take the toll because you aren’t with them a lot Right now I enjoy (coaching both teams). Until it really starts affecting family, then I’ll hang it up.”
This will be the third time Booneville (32-2) and Belmont (30-4) will have played this season. The Lady Blue Devils and Lady Cardinals are in the same division (Region 1-3A) and Booneville won the two matchups by a combined five points (60-56 in regular season and 54-53 in district tournament).
“Belmont is a very well coached team and has all the pieces in place to win the whole thing. I know they have that loss in last year’s championship game fresh on their minds,” Smith said. “We have to come out and play our game and execute and see if we can win the state championship.”
Contact Brandon Shields at (601) 961-7248 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BShields_CL on Twitter.