Moss Point's Booker wants to 'go out with a bang' in final postseason
MOSS POINT - Senior Moss Point star Devin Booker will get one last postseason go-round when the Tigers begin their pursuit of a trip to Jackson in the Division 8-4A Tournament at Bay High next week.
Moss Point will be the heavy favorite to win the division tournament after cruising to the top seed with a 10-0 mark in division play. After starting out 3-11, the Tigers have won 11 of 13 games to move above the .500 mark overall at 14-13.
Despite having every defense imaginable thrown at him this season, Booker has again been dominant for the Tigers with an average of 31 points a game.
He's established the career scoring mark, managed to finally beat rival Pascagoula and won the regular season division title, but postseason success is the one thing that has eluded him so far.
Is Booker putting more pressure on himself headed into his last postseason?
"It's a good pressure," Booker said. "Obviously, I want to go out with a bang. Even if we made a run, I'm not settling for anything less than a state championship. That's one of my goals and I hope to get it."
Even if Moss Point makes it out of the division tournament as expected, the path to the Class 4A semifinals in Jackson won't be an easy one. McComb and Raymond are considered two of the better teams on any level, and both are in the Class 4A South Division this year.
"It's not going to be easy at all," said Melvin Booker, Devin's dad and the Moss Point coach "We've heard a lot about McComb. Raymond, I saw them play St. Martin in Hoopsfest. It's going to be difficult, and we played Corinth early in the year. We saw the top team out of the North so we know it's not going to be easy, but who said it was going to be easy?"
Moss Point missed out on the state tournament last season when it lost to Gautier in the Division 7-5A Tournament.Booker's lone taste of the state tournament is when the Tigers were eliminated by (current Pascagoula coach) Ronald Norman's Wayne County squad after just one game in 2012.
Melvin Booker has noticed the 6-foot-5 guard has picked up his intensity in recent weeks with an eye on avoiding an early postseason exit.
"Lately, we've been talking about it," Melvin Booker said. "I can tell that it's on his mind. He's been spending a lot of time getting more focused about making a nice little run in the playoffs."
Devin Booker, who signed with Kentucky, has had to find new ways to get the ball in the basket.
"I really have no choice," Devin Booker said. "That's what I'm left to do and I think I've done a pretty good job of it this year."
Melvin Booker believes his son has grown as a player, developing a more complex game as he prepares to make the leap to top flight Division I college basketball.
"He's picked it up," Melvin Booker said. "He's even more aggressive on offense and the defensive side of the ball. He's rebounding a lot for us. That's what our leader should do. The best player should take it to the next level and the other kids should follow."
Booker believes this season has helped him improve overall as a player.
"I've grown as a leader by leading a young group and I feel like on the court I've had to play with the ball in my hands a lot more," Devin Booker said. "I'm not going to get any easy looks. I have to find ways to get my teammates involved, and that's part of being a leader and making tough shots."
The play of a pair of junior guards, Marcus Watson and Terrance Trussell, and senior forward Derrick McMillian will also be key to Moss Point's chances in the postseason.
Moss Point has one regular season contest to play, and it's a big one. It travels to rival Pascagoula on Friday.
Melvin Booker is confident that the team is playing its best as it prepares for the most crucial point of the season.
"I think we're in a good place right now," he said. "We've picked it up defensively. We're playing a lot of great defense, forcing teams into turnovers, which allows us to get easy baskets. Our confidence level is really high. We're 10-0 in district and I like how we've been playing since the new year. The kids are excited about the playoffs."