No. 8 JC wins Region 23 ‘Cat Fight, earns 7th straight trip to national tourney

The Lady Bobcats won their seventh consecutive Region 23 crown Sunday and are headed to the...
The Lady Bobcats won their seventh consecutive Region 23 crown Sunday and are headed to the national tournament in Lubbock, Texas, later this month.(Jones College)
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 3:50 AM CST
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From Jones College Sports Information Department

CLINTON, Miss. (WDAM) - They’ve done it again.

Jones College (25-3) withstood a fourth-quarter rally by archrival Pearl River Community College Sunday afternoon at A.E. Wood Coliseum and claim a 59-51 victory in the Region 23 women’s basketball championship game.

In doing so, the eighth-ranked Lady Bobcats won their 19th consecutive game and punched its ticket to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Tournament for an unrivaled seventh consecutive season.

“To win 19 straight games, the (Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference) and Region 23 is such an incredible accomplishment,” Jones College head women’s basketball coach Missy Bilderback said. “I’m just really thankful and proud of every single player on this team and the sacrifices they make.

“They stayed focused under pressure and with a target on their backs. We are loaded with talented players, but it’s the unselfishness and commitment to winning that tells a lot about who they are.”

No. 23 Pearl River (24-3) scored the game’s first six points, but never would lead again. Jones scored 10 straight and 19 of the next 21 to take control of the game.

Carly Keats scored the first five points for the Lady Bobcats and would finish with a game-high 11 in the half.

Her back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second quarter gave JC a 25-11 advantage.

Jones led 31-23 at half and 45-31 after three quarters.

PRCC outscored Jones 13-4 to open the fourth quarter and quickly got within five with under three minutes to play.

J’mani Ingram, who started the game 0-for-16, hit three straight buckets in the period.

Tierra Simon’s 3-pointer cut it to 53-49 with 49 seconds left before En’Dya Buford scored Jones’ final six points.

Her steal in the front court and ensuing layup with 35 seconds left put the game on ice.

Buford finished with 19 points to lead all scorers. Sakyia White had 10 points and 15 rebounds and Meloney Thames

added 10 points.

Tasionna McDowell chipped in with eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

The national tournament is set for March 22-27 at the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas.

Jones made the program’s first-ever Final Four last season and was the first team in nearly 40 years to make it that far from Mississippi.

“We are ecstatic that this team gets to go to Lubbock and compete with the best teams in the country,” Bilderback said. “We are going to go have fun and see what happens.”

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