By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
CLINTON – A superb second-half keyed No. 5 Jones County to an 88-66 victory over Northeast Mississippi here Thursday evening in the Region 23 Tournament semifinals at the A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.
The Lady Bobcats outscored Northeast 52-27 over the final 20 minutes as they reached the region tourney title game for the second consecutive year.
JCJC, 25-3, will now face Copiah-Lincoln at 5:30 p.m. Friday for the championship. Co-Lin beat Holmes 63-57 in Thursday's other semifinal game.
Friday's winner will secure an automatic berth in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament March 19-24 in Lubbock, Texas.
The Lady Bobcats trailed 21-20 after the first quarter and were down 39-33 with 1:23 left in the half before Kira Bonner (Quitman) hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 39-36 at halftime.
JCJC began to take charge in the third quarter.
An Alexis Tolefree (Conway, Arkansas) basket with 6:23 showing gave Jones the lead for good at 44-43. A Bonner 3-pointer at 5:12 capped an 11-0 run and gave Jones a 49-43 lead.
Two K.K. Tassin (Terry) free throws put JCJC ahead 61-51 with :09 left in the quarter, but Jada Tubbs hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 61-54. That would be the closest the Lady Tigers would get.
The Lady Bobcats started the final quarter on a 9-2 run and took a 70-56 lead with 6:21 remaining when Maya Jones (Northwest Rankin) scored. JCJC's longest lead would be at the end of the game.
The heroes were many for JCJC.
Tolefree had 26 points, including four 3-pointers, while Nique Cherry (Heidelberg) posted her 22nd 'double-double' of the season with 13 points and 24 rebounds.
Camryn London (Birmingham, Alabama) came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 10 rebounds. She was 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Bonner finished with 13 points, including four 3-pointers.
Tassin and Tolefree each had 6 assists and Tolefree had 3 steals.
Aundrea Adams and Adallice Young had 15 points each for Northeast. Cherelle Jones added 14 and Dayzsha Rogan had 11. Adams had 8 rebounds and Tyra Tucker had 6 assists.
JCJC was 29-of-69 from the field (12-of-26 from 3-point range) for 42 percent. The Lady Bobcats were 18-of-25 from the foul line.
Northeast was 23-of-67 from the floor (3-of-19 from 3-point range) for 34 percent. The Lady Tigers were 17-of-23 from the free throw line.
JCJC outrebounded Northeast, 51-38. The Lady Bobcats committed 18 turnovers, compared to 17 for Northeast.
The Lady Tigers end the season at 18-9.