After losing a heartbreaker to Hattiesburg in the last second of the Class 5A state championship game last season, the returning West Jones girls set some goals for this season.
“One of them was to go undefeated,” WJ coach Sharon Murray said.
So far, so good.
The Lady Mustangs improved to 26-0 with a 69-52 win over Laurel in the Region 5-5A tournament title game on Friday night. They jumped on the Lady Naders early and didn’t let up until it was well at hand in the fourth quarter.
Brikayla Gray led the way with 21 points, Jurnee McLaurin had 18, Briana Carr added 16 and Mia Moore chipped in eight.
“They’re just trying to get back (to the championship) and get another chance,” Murray said. “That’s what motivates them.”
For Laurel (12-12), which shocked South Jones in the tournament opener, India Singleton scored 20 — 15 in the second half — Beverly Tillman had 14 and Zoey Cooley added 10.
Both teams will advance to play in the South State tournament now. That’s another step for West Jones’ players toward their ultimate goal.
“I’m feeling good about where we’re at right now,” Murray said. “We’ve got people stepping up, leading, looking for each other, knocking down shots … but we can’t get comfortable.”
The Lady Mustangs earned a first-round bye and will host the winner of the Long Beach (10-16)-Picayune (9-17) matchup on Friday night in the first round of the South State playoffs.
Laurel was scheduled to take on Natchez (11-16) — the team that Lady Naders coach Alphaka Moore led to back-to-back state championships before returning to coach her alma mater in 2016 — on Monday night. The Lady Naders beat Natchez over the Christmas break, 56-44. The winner of the Laurel-Natchez matchup will face defending state champion Hattiesburg on Friday night.
Wayne ends South’s season
South Jones’ season came to an end with a second straight stunning loss in the Region 5-5A tournament. Wayne County won the consolation game, 69-66, to keep its season going.
Jordan Clark scored 12 points and Kelsi Jackson had 10 for the Lady Braves, who started the season 14-0 but finished 18-10.
Lashanda Everett had 16 points and Bayleigh Busby had 11 to lead the Lady War Eagles (11-14), who were to have faced Forest Hill (14-11) on Monday night for a chance to advance.
Other girls’ matchups:
The Northeast Jones Lady Tigers (12-7) were scheduled to take on Raymond (15-12) on Monday night and the winner will face Moss Point (20-7) or Sumrall (3-16) on Friday night. No NE Jones results from the Region 5-4A tournament were reported, but they had to finish third or better to advance in the postseason.
In 2A, Taylorsville (17-8) took on Pisgah (17-12) on Monday, and the winner will play Friday against North Forrest (21-7) or Enterprise-McComb (7-17). Bay Springs (9-6) was facing St. Joseph (5-20) Monday and the winner will play Friday against Collins (11-16) or Bogue Chitto (19-9). Heidelberg (8-13) was playing Puckett (26-3) on Monday for the right to play Friday vs. the winner of the Loyd Star (12-12)-St. Patrick (11-16) matchup.
In 1A, Stringer (2-19) was playing East Marion (17-9) Monday night, and the winner will face either Coffeeville (5-17) or Vardaman (17-13) on Friday night.