Trinity Taylor was unstoppable behind the arc in the first period. Against Region 5-5A and county rival Laurel, the West Jones sophomore guard buried five three's in the first eight minutes. Her fifth changing the lead for the eighth time, one her team built on till the final buzzer.
West Jones defeated Laurel 67-48 Friday night at home and improved to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in region play through the first cycle of games. Laurel falls to 9-9 and 1-1 in 5-5A, with one more game left in its first cycle of region play.
"[Trinity Taylor] gave us a lot of momentum," said West Jones girls basketball coach Sharon Murray. "Having someone else step up beside Brikayla [Gray], who does so much for us, gave us the confidence we needed, too, especially being such a young team."
Taylor didn’t make another three in the game but added six points in the second half to finish with 21. Gray led all scorers on the night with 34, 14 of which came in the final period.
“Brikayla is such a blessing to have,” added Murray. “I thank God for her. She carries us, and she makes everyone else around her better too. She knew we needed some baskets. She didn’t have time to let someone else time to make shots, so she made the shots when we needed them. Whenever Laurel would make a run, she’d go in and give us a good score. I’m so thankful to have her, and I’ll hate to lose her after this year.”
Laurel pulled within six points early in the fourth period, 48-41.
Then Gray went to work. The USM signee scored 10 straight points to put West Jones back in control as the Lady Mustangs cruised to victory.
The win comes after a big loss to Brookhaven (80-65) Tuesday night on the road.
"The big thing is I want our team to improve," said Murray. "To improve, you have to keep fighting. I wanted to see our girls fight for the game, play good defense, and be scrappy. I wanted to see effort and heart."
The Lady Mustangs showed all of the above Friday night to end the first cycle of region games with a win.
Beverly Tillman led Laurel with 24 points. Almost all of Tillman’s eight-first period points came from drives down the lane. West Jones shut the lane down against Tillman and held her to zero-second period points.
"One of our guards going into foul trouble, so we switched up on who was guarding her," said Murray. "And hoped that she wouldn't keep doing it. Tillman is a great player. We didn't stop her completely but was able to slow her down and not allow her to hit the shots she was getting early."
West Jones faces Brookhaven at home next Friday. Laurel will square up against Brookhaven for the first time this season this coming Tuesday at home too. Tip-off for both games is at 6 p.m.