Laurel stunned South Jones, 63-58, in the opening round of the Region 5-5A girls’ basketball tournament to set up an unexpected championship showdown between host West Jones and the Lady Tornadoes on Friday night.
Laurel jumped up 32-21 in the first half and held on for the victory despite a big performance by South Jones senior Kelsi Jackson, who had 23 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Eighth-grader Jernize Gammage had 12 points and nine rebounds and Jordan Clark contributed 11 points in the loss.
India Singleton led Laurel with 22 points, while Beverly Tillman scored 13 and Kristian Edwards netted 12. Laurel lost twice to the Lady Braves in the regular season — in overtime, 66-62, on Jan. 8, and 57-45 at Laurel on Jan. 18.
South Jones started the season 14-0, but the team is 18-9 overall and 3-3 in region play going into Friday’s consolation game against Wayne County (10-14, 1-5). Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
West Jones remained perfect, running its record to 25-0, by beating the Lady War Eagles 41-23 in the first round. The visitors led 12-3 after the first quarter, but from there, it was all Lady Mustangs. They scored 31 points in the second and third quarters while holding Wayne County to 11 points over the last three quarters.
The Lady Mustangs and Laurel will play for the region tournament championship at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Tornadoes (16-6, 7-0) beat West Jones 78-59 in the first round of the boys’ tournament, but no statistics were reported. Wayne County (16-11, 5-2) won 77-63 over South Jones (4-22) to advance to the region championship against Laurel at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
West Jones (8-17, 1-5) and South Jones will play in the consolation game at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Northeast Jones girls (11-7, 6-2) were set to play West Lauderdale (7-18) tonight (Thursday) at 7 in the Region 5-4A tournament in Mendenhall. The Tigers (14-12) played Newton County (3-21) on Tuesday night, but no results were reported. Championship and consolation games were set for Friday at Mendenhall.