Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
POND CREEK, Okla. —
The story of Jade Jones’ senior season, the highlights including a rare scoring benchmark and a Class A state title, started with a single step at the end of her junior year.
Then a pop.
Then a fall.
Jones, a potent junior for Pond Creek-Hunter — then a game short of the 2013 state tournament — was slowed by a left knee injury in the regional round’s consolation final against Velma-Alma, but still fast enough to get a steal and race down the floor for an easy layup.
Or what should have been one, anyway. Jones’ ailing knee buckled on the way up, and what had been a tweak became a torn ACL.
“It was the worst pain I’ve ever been through,” Jones said. “I went down. Losing the game went through my head, not making it to state. I didn’t know that it was torn at the time. I still think about it.”
Jones returned and finished with 16 points in a PC-Hunter win, but with their star hobbled, the Lady Panthers fell short of their first-ever state tournament win, falling to Cheyenne-Reydon 51-41 in the quarterfinal round. Jones had nine points. In the week after, Jones received the diagnosis on her left knee.
“She knew what was ahead of her as far as her rehab and how long her recovery would be,” said PC-Hunter head coach Tasha Diesselhorst. “We told her we didn’t know how it happened, but God was gonna use her story to make something special. I’m glad he proved me right.”
Something special did happen, and it culminated in Jones being named the Enid News & Eagle 2014 Northwest Oklahoma girls basketball player of the year in voting by area coaches.
But, it looked dicey at first.
After an offseason of rehab and through most of her senior season, Jones said she wasn’t the same. She scored 22.1 points per game, and shot 43 percent from three, with team highs in assists (5.5) and steals (4.2) as the Lady Panthers finished their regular season undefeated, but Jones still felt short of her own full speed.
“I’d done everything I could, I worked so hard, but I wasn’t close to 100 percent,” she said. “I wasn’t as fast.”
She returned to form just in time. With PC-Hunter a loss from elimination and a loss from a second straight state tournament in the area consolation finals vs. Coyle, Jones let loose. The knee was sturdy. When she reached for it — she’d rarely needed to in a seldom-contested regular season — her speed and shiftiness was right where it’d always been.
“I was doing everything,” said Jones, who scored 30 in a 58-48 win. “I felt fast. We were playing against fast girls and doing whatever I wanted. It was the best feeling, ever.”
Up till then, anyway.
Jones scored 58 points in the state tournament, including another 30-point game against Cheyenne-Reydon in the semis, eclipsing 2,000 career points along the way to finish with 2,029. The Lady Panthers won their first state title, edging Seiling 32-30.
“That’s what winning a state championship is all about, just standing there in those final seconds and watching your girls celebrate,” Diesselhorst said. “Especially Jade and her story and all she’s been through.”
Jones will continue her basketball career at Southwestern Oklahoma State next season. SWOSU finished 19-11 in 2013-14, upsetting Harding in the Great American Conference Tournament final before losing to Emporia State in an NCAA II Regional.
Jones likely will major in education, in the hopes of coaching one day, perhaps with Diesselhorst.
“I’m ready for a challenge,” she said. “I’m gonna have to work for it.”
Hailey Parker, Timberlake
• Averaged 13 points, six rebounds and 2.3 steals her senior season.
• Played on four state tournament teams at Timberlake. The Lady Tigers went 86-24 during her career.
• “This (success) has been in large part due to her passion for the game, determination to win, and unmatched work ethic,’’ said Timberlake coach Kale Pierce. “The most enjoyable part of coaching Parker has been to watch her grow as a person and a player from the time I met her as a first grader to her maturation into a great leader who’s unselfishness has led her to make everyone around her better with sole focus being on the good of the team.’’
Taylor Mendell, Lomega
• Averaged 20.2 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in leading the Lady Raiders to the state semifinals.
• Lomega, during her career, won a state championship and was a state runner-up. She was an all-tournament selection at state three times.
• Scored 55 points in Lomega’s two state tournament games — 34 in a 78-48 rout of Buffalo Valley and 21 in a 65-56 loss to Buffalo Valley.
• Named the Most Valuable Player in the Cherokee Strip Conference after leading the Lady Raiders to a co-league championship
Rylie Halcomb, Pond Creek-Hunter
• Averaged 15 points and five rebounds in helping to lead the Lady Panthers to the Class A state championship.
• Played in two state tournaments
• All-Skeltur Conference selection.
• “She had an amazing senior year,’’ said Pond Creek-Hunter coach Tasha Diesselhorst. “She came up huge for us in the playoffs, especially with her leadership and her presence. We wouldn’t have been able to win the state championship without her.’’
Kaci Livingston, Seiling
• Averaged 5.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in helping lead the Lady Wildcats to the Class A state finals.
• Played on three state tournament teams and one area finals team in her career.
• Active in softball and the Future Farmers of America.
• ”She was an undersized post (5-8), but she worked her tail off to be physical and get boards,’’ Seiling coach Brady Hamar. “She is extremely tough and physical for her size. She was athletic enough where she could step out and hit the three.’’
Morgan Marks, Seiling
• Averaged 6.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in helping to lead the Lady Wildcats to the Class A state finals. Led Seiling with 10 points in 32-30 loss to Pond Creek-Hunter in championship game.
• Played on three state tournament teams and one area losers bracket final team in her career
• Excels in softball
• “She did a great job rebounding for us and guarding people inside,’’ said Seiling coach Brady Harm. “She has decent size (5-foot-9), but can run and play like a guard. She worked extremely hard blocking out and being aggressive.’’
Kylie Turner, Lomega — Averaged 9.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a senior. Played on three state tournament teams, including a state championship team in 2012. Lomega coach Kevin Lewallen said Turner “played extremely hard and was a good teammate.’’
Ami Adkisson, Timberlake — Averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 steals and 4 assists in helping the Lady Tigers back to the Class A state tournament. Two-year starter after moving in from Cimarron. Adkisson “has always been up for any challenge thrown at her,’’ coach Kale Pierce said.
Hope Yearian, Pioneer — Averaged five points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals as a senior, shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and 73 percent from the foul line. PHS coach Brandon Gallagher said she was a “really good ballhandler and I wish we had her for another year, she is an underrated player.’’
Morgan Vogt, Okarche — Averaged 24.8 points and 5.2 rebounds as the Lady Warriors won the Class B state championship after taking the Class A title the year before. MVP of the state tournament both times. Played on a state runnerup team in 2012. McDonald’s All-American nominee.
Shealynn Garrett, Garber — Averaged 11.5 points, with 4.8 rebounds, 59 assists and 34 steals. Called the “consumate team player’’ and “smart and savvy’’ by Lady Wolverines head coach Jamie Davis. Can play all five positions on the floor. All-Skeltur Conference selection.
Burlington – Heather Armbruster
Cherokee – Mollie Hawkins
Cimarron – Courtney McCartney
Covington-Douglas – Calli Kaiser, Jessi Parsons
DCLA – Katherine Muegge
Hennessey – Kinsey Reeves
Kingfisher – Hailey Matthews
Kremlin-Hillsdale – Ryan Voth
Medford – Trista Cripe
Okarche – Madi Grellner
Seiling – Kelsie Pethoud
Shattuck – Daniela Galindo