NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

High school basketball: Jones High making history with girls' first trip to state


JONES — On the wall in Jones’ field house hang banners from multiple sports that have advanced to the state tournament.

However, outside of cheerleading, there are zero banners hanging for girls sports. After the 2020 season that will change.

Jones girls won its first area basketball championship on Friday to advance to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time in school history.

“It’s definitely been a goal of ours since I was hired at Jones,” said fourth-year Jones coach Jenni Holbrook.

For the past three seasons, Jones has made the area championship game but fell short of winning. Each time the Longhorns felt like they should have made state. So that’s what they did. Holbrook had the team go to the state tournament and watch others play as motivation every year.

“It was terrible,” Jones leading scorer Caley Young said. “Just knowing that we were supposed to be there, but we made ourselves do it and I think it’s going to pay off here.”

While watching the games, Holbrook asked herself, “what are they doing that we didn’t do?”

Studying the 2019 state tournament field, she found her answer.

“Defense,” Holbrook said. “So this year our focus has been on defense.”

The focus that Holbrook put on Jones’ defense propelled it to the No. 1 defense in Class 3A. The Longhorns are holding opponents to 30.5 points a game. At 26-1, they are ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.

“We’ve been working for it for four years,” said starting guard Bailey Ely. “And we’ve come up short, so finally getting past it is really exciting for all of us. Not just the seniors but for everybody, even the freshman. We’re all super excited that history has been made this year.”

Now that they have made state, Jones is doing whatever it can to prepare for the tournament atmosphere. To get a better understanding of the depth perception when shooting at State Fair Arena, Jones practiced at Solid Rock, a 32,000 square foot building with four basketball courts, on Tuesday.

“Yesterday at practice she had the music on and we couldn’t even hear ourselves think,” Young said about Holbrook’s attempt to imitate crowd noise. “So not being in that atmosphere is a little nerve racking but I think we’re ready, I think we’re good.”

The Longhorns will open the tournament against Eufaula at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Big House, and they are expecting a big crowd.

Jones High School will close Thursday so students and faculty can cheer on the team.

“I think it’s special because the only people that used to cheer for me were my parents and my family,” starting forward Tirzah Moore said. “We come to Jones and people congratulate me, people I don’t know. And events that I’m at, people will talk about my coach and how good of a coach she is and how lucky I am to play for her. I think it’s special.”

James Jackson

James D. Jackson joined The Oklahoman in January 2020 to cover high school sports. He a University of Central Oklahoma graduate. During his time at UCO, James served as a sports reporter and Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, The Vista.... Read more ›