JACKSON — For West Jones coach Sharon Murray the fourth time was the charm.
Behind the play of Aasia Wilson and Jakera Ducksworth the Lady Mustangs raced past Callaway 53-31 to claim the MHSAA Girls Class 5A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Friday night.
It’s West Jones (29-2) second state title in school history and first since 1995.
“The girls got it done. They did a great job of controlling their transition on defense and getting rebounds,” said West Jones coach Sharon Murray. “That was the key to the game was making sure we get back on defense and getting them under control and not driving all game on us.”
The Lady Mustangs never trailed.
It was back and forth first quarter that saw West Jones hold a slim 11-8 lead.
The second quarter is when the Lady Mustangs began to separate themselves as they went on a 10-4 run to extend their lead to 21-12.
West Jones ended the quarter on a 7-1 run highlighted by a Halei Keyes lay-up at the buzzer to take a 28-14 halftime lead.
The third quarter was back and forth, but the Lady Mustangs kept separating themselves and ended the period on an 8-2 run to take a 43-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
An 8-2 run to begin the fourth quarter gave West Jones a 51-25 lead and seal the win.
“Two of our big players came to play and they had a really good night. Jakera had a great game and they were able to get some easy baskets and this was one of the best defensive teams I’ve ever coached and they bought into play defense,” Murray said. “This feels amazing. I’ve coached in this game four times and to finally win it is incredible.”
Ducksworth had a game-high 18 points to lead West Jones and was named the game’s most valuable player.
Wilson added 16 points and Keyes chipped in 12 points for the Lady Mustangs.
“We had good chemistry and worked together and saw open gaps and took them,” Ducksworth said. “We was able to stop their best players and their shooters. This feels great.”
Jahanna Wilson had 12 points to lead Callaway (27-7). The Lady Chargers were making just their second state title appearance.
“This was by far the worse loss we had all season and we played our best game too early. It just wasn’t meant to be,” said Callaway coach Ashli Sutton. “It means everything to make and to enjoy the moment, but tonight wasn’t enjoyable. The ride to get was definitely enjoyable, but we will be back.”