ST. MARTIN - With her team up only one at the half, 23-22, and with Daphne White being shut down by Oak Grove, St. Martin coach Gina Bell challenged Savannah Jones to step up her game in the second half.
Jones took Bell's instruction to heart and hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter, scoring 11 of the Yellow Jackets' first 15 points of the second half to lead St. Martin to a 56-43 win over Oak Grove in the second round of the Class 6A girls basketball playoffs Friday night.
"I told her she had to take the game over and that's what she did," Bell said.
Instead of feeling pressure to put her team on her shoulders, Jones felt "confidence" in the third quarter.
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"I just went out and let the ball go," Jones said.
Jones finished the third quarter with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, as St. Martin went on a 20-9 run over the quarter to take a commanding 43-31 lead going into the final quarter.
Oak Grove (19-9) cut the Yellow Jackets lead to eight three times in the fourth quarter, but was never able to get closer. Either Deona Morgan or Jesla McCorvey responded for St. Martin (27-2) to push the lead back out to 10.
"I thought we were in position to win," said Oak Grove coach Mark Swindle. "However, (Jones) made the shots in the third quarter. We had open shots and we couldn't make it. She made several big shots. If she just goes 2-for-4, that makes a big difference in the fourth quarter."
With White being held to only two points for the game, it was important for other players to come through.
"They did a good job on (White)," Bell said. "The win tonight was a team effort."
It's the first time the St. Martin girls team has made it to Jackson for the state finals.
"This was one of my goals this year to make it to Jackson and make history," Jones said. "None of us have ever had the opportunity to go to the state tournament. We are leaving behind a legacy."
Jones finished the game with 31 points, including six 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Morgan was second on the Yellow Jackets' scoring charts with 14 points, five in the final quarter, and six assists. Although she was held to just two points, White 10 blocked shots.
Lekera Hughes led Oak Grove with 12 points, with Gabby Haynes scoring 10 points.