GRAY -- Heather Rushin’s timing couldn’t have been better for Jones County. For most of the game, the Lady Hounds’ long-range shooting threat had been mostly limited by Westside’s tenacious defense.
Rushin, however, came through just in time, draining a 3-pointer from the right corner of the court with nine seconds remaining to earn Jones County a 38-37 comeback win in the girls championship game of the Jones County Holiday tournament.
“They covered Heather all night; they had a girl shadowing her,” Jones County head coach Lance Pittman said. “But she made it when it counted, she didn’t get many shots.”
Until her timely shot, Rushin had been held to five points. But her 3-pointer ignited a spirited crowd at Jones County, which got to see the hometown Lady Hounds celebrate on their home court.
“Words can’t really describe how good this feels,” Rushin said.
Westside had one last-ditch try to retake the lead, but Braxtyn Talton’s shot from the left side bounced off the rim as time expired.
Westside held a double-digit lead to start the fourth quarter, but saw its advantage quickly shrink in the opening minute. A 3-pointer by Chavon Lloyd and a score by Jessica Solomon cut the Westside lead to 29-25. Lloyd’s 13 points led Jones County.
“They outrebounded us all night long,” Westside head coach Deb Baber said. “We didn’t finish shots all night long; they outworked us, that’s all there is to it.”
The Seminoles led 34-31 with 3:15 to play after a layup and free throw by Tommitrise Collins, who led Westside with 19 points.
Jones County, however, hit enough of a surge, slowly moving toward the lead helped by being able to corral 17 offensive rebounds against Westside. The Seminoles didn’t help themselves at the free-throw line, missing 3-of-4 in the final two minutes from the charity stripe.
“They deserved the game; we didn’t,” Baber.
Those missed opportunities were enough of a window for Jones County, which cut the Westside lead to 36-34 on a jumper by Rushin, with a free throw by Lloyd with 1:35 to play making it a one-point Westside lead.
A missed lay-up by Westside’s Daisha Terry and Erin Stubbs making one of her two free throws kept Westside ahead only 37-35 with 35 seconds to go, offering enough of an opportunity for the Lady Greyhounds.
“This is very huge for these girls. They haven’t had that win since I’ve been here, and this is my second year with them,” Pittman said. “They needed to hit that shot, that did a lot for their confidence and psyche. They know they can hang with pretty much any time, because, Westside’s a good team.”
Warner Robins 66 , Northside 59
In a back and forth bout between a pair of city rivals, the Demons controlled the fourth quarter, pulling away enough to claim the 66-59 victory.
A 3-pointer by Juvuan Shine put Warner Robins ahead 52-49 early in the final quarter, and the Demons never trailed again. Shine was one of three Warner Robins players scoring in double figures, contributing 15 and sinking four 3-pointers. Jalen Rountree had 23 with Malik Ricketts having 10.
Trailing 58-50 with 3:04 to play, the Eagles staged a comeback, drawing as few as four points with 21 seconds to play. But the Demons converted 5-of-6 free throws to finish the game and put the game away.
Jarius Smith’s 10 points led Northside.