No. 9 Jones County overcomes sluggish start, races past No. 24 Three Rivers, 88-84.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Keyara Jones and Kyia Weathersby scored 24 points apiece, and No. 9 Jones County Junior College overcame a sluggish start to rally past No. 24 Three Rivers Community College, 88-84, in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Destiny Haymer added 16 points, including a key free throw with 3.9 seconds left, to ice the game for the Bobcats.
“Three Rivers is really good and they hit some shot and kind of hit us in the mouth,” Jones County head coach Missy Bilderback said. “For us to be able to just be tough and battle back through that stretch in the third and fourth, and stick together, is what it’s all about. I’m just really proud of our team for finding a way to win.”
Jones County (28-2) used a strong third quarter to help erase a double-digit first-quarter deficit, then built that lead to as much as 15 early in the fourth quarter before Hailee Erickson almost singlehandedly brought the Lady Raiders (27-4) all the way back.
Erickson scored 18 of her game-high 29 points, including four of her 6 3-pointers, in the final 10 minutes that helped erase that 15-point deficit and put the Lady Raiders in position to tie the game.
“I know whenever we start playing fast and moving the ball, that’s when we start making our shots,” Erickson said. “After I made those one or two I just started feeling it, and my teammates were giving me confidence and kept giving me the shots that I needed.”
Jones County found its rhythm by slowing down the tempo, then turning to Weathersby, who was a nightmare matchup on the inside for Three Rivers. She came into the game averaging just 10.2 points per night but more than doubled that average, also adding nine rebounds and scoring all but four of her points after the first quarter.
“I just calmed down and got into the flow of the game,” Weathersby said. “Just going with it, really.”
Her presence allowed the Bobcats to dominate down low, outscoring Three Rivers 58-30 on points in the paint and outrebounding the Lady Raiders 41-35. It also allowed Jones County to get its inside-outside game going, and Haymer and Jones took advantage.
“Kyia was really good for us with LaMiracle (Sims) and Maya (Jones) feeding her and they weren’t able to stop them,” Haymer said. “When they go in trying to guard those two we can hit the shots from the outside.”
Hannah Thurman added added 13 points in the loss for Three Rivers while Deanay Watson and An Nyah Pettus added 12 each. Their effort helped Three Rivers get off to a tremendous start to the game.
Down 11-8, Three Rivers began to get its offense in gear and, in particular, Thurman began heating up from 3-point range. Her trey from the right wing helped kickstart a 15-0 run in which five different plays contributed at least two points, giving the Lady Raiders a 23-11 lead. Their defense also played a part, holding the Bobcats scoreless for more than 4 ½ minutes of the period.
But Jones County wouldn’t be held down for long. Jones drained a 3-pointer from the right wing with 19 seconds left in the first quarter to pull the Bobcats to within 10 at the quarter break, then Jones County started going inside to Weathersby, who had five straight points to pull Jones to within 37-25 after Three Rivers opened the second quarter on a 8-0 run, including the second and third treys by Thurman.
Pettus answered Weathersby’s outburst with four straight points to push the Three Rivers lead to 41-25 before the Bobcats scored 10 straight points. LaMiracle Sims added a layup with 46.6 seconds to play to pull Jones to within 46-40, then the Bobcats defense held serve going into the intermission.
But Jones came out of halftime and turned to Weathersby, who scored six straight to tie the game, then her putback started a 7-0 run to put the Bobcats up for good.